Mulvaney declares Senate run

Indian Land businessman Mick Mulvaney made official Tuesday what many have anticipated for weeks: That he will run for the state Senate seat being vacated by Greg Gregory.

"I ran for the House promising to be a true conservative, not just a Republican in name only," Mulvaney said in an announcement. "My voting record shows that I have kept that promise."

Mulvaney, 40, is viewed as a rising star in some Republican political circles. He won election to the state House last year by beating a well-known opponent in Democrat Alston DeVenny, then-chairman of the Lancaster County Council.

Since then, Mulvaney has forged close ties to Gov. Mark Sanford and earned a reputation as a strong-minded party loyalist. He was named majority whip for the 2008 session.

A real-estate developer and attorney, Mulvaney represents House District 45, a conservative-leaning area that includes northeastern York County and northern Lancaster County, including the fast-growing panhandle area near Charlotte's Ballantyne area.

During a recent visit to Rock Hill, House Speaker Bobby Harrell singled out Mulvaney in an audience, joking that he is a little bit crazy but loyal to the party's causes.

"He's proven time and time again that he's not afraid to challenge the old way of thinking in Columbia," added Sanford in a statement.

Democrats to spotlight vouchers

York County Democrats plan to put forth a challenger but have not settled on a choice. They believe Mulvaney is vulnerable because of his support for school vouchers, which Democrats consider an unpopular concept in Fort Mill. Mulvaney voted for a Sanford-backed voucher bill last year.

"I think he is a legend in his own mind," said Chairman Jim Watkins. "I wouldn't be surprised if he had a whole bunch of voucher money behind him. That's going to continue to be an important issue."

In declaring his candidacy, Mulvaney touted endorsements from state Sen. Wes Hayes, Sanford and Gregory, who said earlier that he will not seek re-election. The Republicans hold a 24-22 majority in the Senate.