COLUMBIA — State Sen. Vincent Sheheen announced Wednesday that he will run again for South Carolina governor in 2014.
The Democrat from Kershaw County lost to then-state Rep. Nikki Haley, a Lexington Republican, in a tight race in 2010 -- 51.4 percent to 47 percent.
The governor has not formally announced that she will seek a second four-year term, but she is widely expected to enter the race after the legislative session ends in June.
Sheheen, who is the first candidate to officially announce a bid for governor, said he will not start to campaign until after the session ends so he can concentrate on his work in the Senate, party officials said.
“Our state deserves better than the failed and dysfunctional government it has received from our current politicians,” Sheheen said in a message to supporters. “Now, we need leaders.”
Sheheen, 41, has been laying the groundwork for another run.
He attended the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last fall and the Democratic Governor’s Association meeting in Los Angeles just before the holidays.
The attorney also released a self-published book “The Right Way: Getting the Palmetto State Back on Track” last month that read like a campaign platform. He spoke about the book during a tour across the state at the end of March.
“In the coming months, we’ll build our organization and officially launch the campaign this summer,” Sheheen said in his email. “Three years ago, we came so very close to changing South Carolina for the better. Now we can finish the job together.”
Democrats feel they have an opening against Haley, 41, who backed a deal that aided a port in Georgia, oversaw the agency where hackers stole personal information belonging to millions of S.C. taxpayers and failed to curb the state’s high jobless rate.
Republicans have said Sheheen has been positioning himself for another run since losing the 2010 race, while the governor has worked for state improvement, such as pushing ethics and regulatory reform and bringing more jobs.
While the pair have many disagreements, they are allies on the push for government restructuring that would give the governor more authority over day-to-day operations.
The governor has a big money advantage over Sheheen. Haley had $1.5 million on hand at the end of 2012, according to S.C .Ethics Commission reports. Sheheen had $92,000 in his Senate account and $500 in a new account for governor.
Haley might not have announced a re-election bid, but her chief of staff, who ran her 2010 campaign, returned to her political operation last fall. Her campaign has opened a Columbia office.