In a final, furious day of campaigning, Republican Nikki Haley and Democrat Vincent Sheheen swept through the Rock Hill area to hammer their signature themes into the minds of voters one last time.
Haley recalled the early days when she languished in the polls and had little name recognition as a three-term state representative.
Now the frontrunner, Haley urged supporters to finish an improbable effort that started 18 months ago. The approach to governing should start with "What do we have to have?" Haley told 60 people at USC Lancaster.
During a stop later Monday at the Rock Hill/York County Airport, Sheheen said his latest polls show him within 1 point of Haley. It's time for South Carolina to elect a governor it can trust, Sheheen told reporters.
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"True transparency comes from leadership," Sheheen said. "That's where she misses the point."
Haley said her administration would conduct a top-to-bottom review of spending and pursue transparency measures such as on-the-record voting and online expense reports.
Haley picked up early on the anger among S.C. voters and was able to tailor her message accordingly, said supporter Bill McGarry of Lancaster.
"Sometimes you need new blood," said McGarry, a retired police officer. "What I like is that she's down to earth and says it the way it is. Tells you what she's gonna do."
Lieutenant governor candidate Ashley Cooper was part of the Democratic contingent that landed in Rock Hill. He said Democrats are the party of change.
"This is going to be an anti-incumbent year," he said. "You've had one party control the governor's office. People are tired of the same old, tired leaders we've had."
In a brief interview with The Herald next to her campaign bus, Haley declined to say whether the race with Sheheen has tightened. She also did not commit to keeping open USC Lancaster, a school that Gov. Mark Sanford twice proposed closing in his budget requests.
"We are going to put measurables to every school in South Carolina," Haley said, mentioning in-state students and economic development programs as key factors.
"The days of funding schools based on football tickets and legislative alumni are over."
With anger and discontent coursing through the electorate, today's turnout is expected to exceed voter participation four years ago. That was the last time South Carolina elected a governor, and 1.1 million voters cast ballots.