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State Senator and 2010 Gubernatorial Candidate, Vincent Sheheen (D) was the big guest at a Irmo Democrats monthly meeting and Sheheen drew a pretty big crowd:

The back room at Zorba’s in Irmo was packed. The staff had to retrieve extra chairs from an adjoining room to make sure everyone had a seat. While the food at Zorba’s is delicious, it probably wasn’t the main reason for the crowd.  The monthly meeting of Irmo Democrats was bigger than usual because Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D- Kershaw) was the guest speaker.

Sheheen challenged Nikki Haley for governor in 2010 and was narrowly defeated. It’s widely assumed that he will again challenge Haley in 2014. His appearance at Zorba’s did little to refute that assumption.

After dinner, Sheheen spoke briefly in a manner that sounded a lot like a stump speech. - Irmo-Serve Oaks Patch, 1/18/13

The fact that attendance at this monthly local Democratic meeting had a higher attendance record than usual is an excellent sign.  Sheheen ran an impressive campaign in 2010 against current Governor Nikki Haley (R. SC) in a very red state but lost in a bad year for Democrats.  Sheheen hasn't been coy about the possibility of him making a comeback run in 2014:

Vincent Sheheen, Democratic candidate for Governor 2010
State Sen. Vincent Sheheen hasn't said if he will make a run for the governor's office in 2014, but he's already soliciting donations for support.

Sheheen says a recent poll showing him beating Gov. Nikki Haley in a rematch is less about him and more about South Carolinians desire for a new direction in leadership.

In a statement Thursday, Sheheen wrote, "There's no time like the present to commit to good government in our state." He provided a link for for supporters to donate to his campaign in what he calls an effort to hold state officials accountable. The letter is attached to this story.

"Those of us in South Carolina know we deserve better than what we have gotten from our government officials," Sheheen said in the statement. - Northeast Columbia Patch, 12/31/12

Sheheen's comeback bid has long been anticipated by local political pundits:

S.C. Senator Vincent Sheheen will run against Gov. Nikki Haley in 2014 – assuming Haley hasn’t succeeded in her quest to become vice president (or been forced to resign due to one of her many scandals).

Sources familiar with Sheheen’s thinking tell FITS that the 40-year-old  Camden, S.C. native will mount a much more aggressive campaign this go-round – as evidenced by the  instrumental role he played in convincing Dick Harpootlian to re-take the reins of the S.C. Democratic Party

Sheheen was one of several high-ranking Democrats who persuaded  Harpootlian – a legendary political pit bull – to return to the post he held from 1998-2003.

“(Dick’s) going to soften (Haley) up,” one veteran Democratic operative told FITS, an effort that is obviously already underway.

Meanwhile Sheheen will continue to tack to the center on issues like government restructuring – a Haley priority.

“It’s a two-track effort,” the operative told us. - FITS News, 5/11/11

South Carolina Democrats shouldn't be the only ones energized about a Sheheen come back.  All Democrats and Kos members should be energized about this race and there are several reasons we should be excited about this race.  First off, lets remember that PPP's latest poll showed Haley trailing Sheheen by two points:

In 2010 Nikki Haley was elected Governor of South Carolina by a 51/47 margin, an uninspiring performance given the red hue of the state and what a strong year it was for Republicans nationally. Since then Haley has proven to be an unpopular Governor, and the national political climate has gotten far better for Democrats. As a result Haley now trails her 2010 Democratic opponent, Vincent Sheheen, 46/44 in a hypothetical rematch.
Sheheen is able to overcome South Carolina's GOP lean for two key reasons. He has a 51/35 advantage over Haley with independents, and he's picking up 15% of the Republican vote while losing only 10% of Democrats. Sheheen leads Haley despite having relatively low name recognition- only 45% of voters are familiar enough with him to have an opinion, suggesting some of the profile he built up in 2010 has already receded. - PPP, 12/11/12
Sheheen should also be a favorite to the Kos community when he successfully bypassed Governor Mark Sanford's (R) efforts to reject President Obama's 2009 stimulus package funding by taking the lead in the South Carolina Senate by securing $700 million in stimulus funding for the state.  Sheheen has also lead the way to create a conservation land bank that has preserved thousands of acres in South Carolina.  

Since his loss, Sheheen has remained a relentless, outspoken critic of Governor Haley's policies.  He's hit for Haley's administration hard for their handling of the hack into the Department of Revenue (DOR) database:

At a Thursday morning press conference in the statehouse, Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) and Rep. James Smith (D-Richland) minced few words in describing Gov. Nikki Haley’s handling of the hack into the Department of Revenue (DOR) database. The hack exposed the private personal information, including Social Security Numbers, of as many as 5.7 million taxpayers and 700,000 businesses.

Sheheen referred to Haley’s response as the “Mother of All Government Dysfunction.” Smith said that Haley “has not been straight with the people of South Carolina.”

The legislators pointed to several discrepancies in what Haley has said and what turned out to be true. Most notably, the claim that “nothing could have been done “ to prevent the security breach.

Smith and Sheheen called for three steps:

An independent and comprehensive audit be conducted immediately of the DOR: to find out what really went wrong, why it went wrong, what should be done to fix it, and who ultimately bears the responsibility. Sheheen said the audit needs to be done outside of what SLED is currently investigating because its findings won’t necessarily be criminal in nature.

For a period of least five years and hopefully longer, the legislature should pass a tax credit allowing every citizen and business in South Carolina a tax credit for the cost of obtaining the necessary credit protection.

Reimburse any South Carolina citizen who suffers a theft of his or her assets as a result of the compromised data. - Irmo-Seven Oaks Patch, 11/29/12

Sheheen's even gone as far as claiming that the state constitution be rewritten to fix up the corruption in South Carolina:

Today, in a legislative preview meeting in Columbia with members of the state press corps, he called for a constitutional convention.

He said starting the state's government over again would be the only way to "change culture" in South Carolina, according to the S.C. Radio Network.

South Carolina has had numerous problems in recent years in state government, including a disappearing governor who paid huge fines for using state dollars on his Argentian mistress, a lieutenant governor who stepped down after ethics violations, a ballot mess that knocked hundreds of would-be politicians off of ballots, and a hacking scandal that put millions of current and former South Carolina residents at risk of fraud, just to name a few. - St. Andrews Patch, 1/3/13

Sheheen isn't afraid to speak his mind and stand up for issues that aren't popular with voters like his opposition school vouchers:
Within the context of public education is the issue of school choice, which is popular among voters. But Sheheen took issue with the term “choice.”

“It’s not choice. It’s vouchers,” Sheheen said. “What this issue really is about is taking public money out of public schools and giving it to people so they can send their kids to private schools. And we’re talking about giving public dollars to a school that’s not held to the same standards of other public schools.”

“The thing is, there’s no proof that any of this improves education,” Sheheen explained. “What there is proof of are quality teachers and small classes. That makes a difference. That improves the results.” - Irmo Seven Oaks Patch, 1/18/13

Now Sheheen said he wants to take a closer look into the issue of Medicaid expansion but criticized Haley for following her party's orders in opting out of Obamacare:
In its ruling last summer, the Supreme Court gave states the chance to opt out of Obamacare and decline federal dollars. Gov. Haley and GOP leadership in both chambers of the state legislature plan on doing just that.

Sheheen said he has more to learn on the issue, but said, “Here’s the thing, when I pay taxes to the Federal Government I want those taxes to come back to South Carolina as much as possible and not go to Texas or wherever else.”

“I don’t think we should be writing off any federal money when a lot of it is ours. That’s a mistake. We need to take a hard look at what this will cost us now and down the road if we do accept the funding.”

Sheheen acknowledged the problem of funding health care is complex, which means sophisticated solutions are needed.

“There are two aspects to the health care question, the human effect and the financial effect. We need to consider them both and Gov. Haley hasn’t considered either of them,” Sheheen said. “She’s making a knee jerk decision based on national politics.” - Irmo - Seven Oaks Patch, 1/18/13

Sheheen sounds like a down to earth guy who actually cares about governing and is willing to actually work with Republicans and Democrats in the state legislator to find common sense solutions.  The fact that he could draw a large crowd showcases both his ability to rile up the base and how unpopular Haley is.  But even though she's unpopular, Haley could still be hard to defeat.  She already has a war chest saved up for re-election but take note of where the donations are coming from:

Gov. Nikki Haley has $1.5 million cash on hand for a possible run for a second term in 2014.

Campaign disclosure forms filed this week show the Republican governor raised about $515,000 during the quarter that ended Dec. 31, while her campaign spent about $75,000.

Haley had six fundraisers last quarter, half of them out of state, in California, New York and Florida.

Donations from S.C.-based businesses and residents accounted for less than 60 percent of the total she raised during the quarter. Florida donations were next at 10 percent, followed by New Yorkers at nearly 6 percent.

Californians’ 51 donations ranked second in number behind the 418 reported from South Carolina, but their combined $21,000 ranked fifth in total amount, at 4 percent. - The State, 1/12/13

She certainly is getting a lot of money outside of California.  My bet is it's coming from right-wing Super PACs.  But Sheheen understands that this race can't be bought for:
Like the rest of the country, the demographics in the Palmetto State are changing. They probably won’t change enough by 2014 to help the Democrats on issues alone, so other factors come into play. In any event, Sheheen sounded like someone who’s analyzed the dynamics of a statewide race.

“People are much more sophisticated as voters now. They’re more independent-minded and they receive their media in all sorts of different places,” Sheheen said. “There’s no machine anymore so you have to build each campaign.” - Irmo-Seven Oaks Patch, 1/18/13

2014 is certainly going to be an exciting year in South Carolina.  You have a special election for the U.S. Senate taking place to replace Senator Jim DeMint (R. SC) who resigned to run the Heritage Foundation.  You also have Senator Lindsey Graham (R. SC) who is highly likely to be challenged by a far right candidate backed by the Club For Growth.  You also have this clown running for Congress this year:
And as ridiculous as it may sound, Sanford may actually have a shot at this seat:

While it might seem unlikely that a figure whose once-soaring stock came crashing down might stand a chance to return to public office, there are a few factors working squarely in Sanford’s favor:

* Name recognition: Sanford represented the 1st district from 1995 until 2001, and served two terms as governor, so voters know who he is. The 1st district’s lines changed during the decennial redistricting process, but the Charleston media market – where Sanford is very well-known – still covers a majority of the district.

* Fiscal issues: Sanford made his mark as a staunch fiscal conservative, and given the issues that are likely to dominate the discussion in Congress (the debt ceiling, spending, the sequester, deficit reduction) in the coming months, fiscal conservatives are likely to look favorably upon Sanford’s chops. Opponents may charge that Sanford’s personal indiscretions make him an unreliable figure, but on fiscal issues, it will be hard to argue against Sanford’s reliably conservative resume.

* Money: Sanford has about $125,000 left over from his congressional campaign account, and the relationships he cultivated during his time as governor will allow him to raise more. The campaign will be a sprint, so there will not be a lot of time for candidates to build large war chests. Filing opens Jan. 18 and closes Jan. 28, with the primary election set for March 19 and a runoff (if the winner does not take a majority of the vote) to follow April 2. The general election will be held May 7.

* A potentially crowded GOP field: State Sen. Larry Grooms is set to announce his candidacy Thursday, while state Rep. Chip Limehouse and Teddy Turner (son of media mogul Ted Turner) are also in the race. Others may also enter the mix, though Sanford’s ex-wife, Jenny Sanford, will not run. We could see a situation where the anti-Sanford vote is split up. - Washington Post, 1/16/13

Plus Sanford might be squaring off against Stephen Colbert's sister if he secures the nominee, bringing a lot of high press to the race:

Stephen Colbert may have “run for president,” but his sister is actually going to run for Congress.

Elizabeth Colbert-Busch’s soon-to-be-official campaign has informed South Carolina Democratic Party executive director Amanda Loveday that it will file Tuesday for the special election for appointed Sen. Tim Scott’s (R-S.C.) old House seat, Loveday has told the Washington Post. - Washington Post, 1/18/13

Along with all the other statewide offices up for re-election in 2014, South Carolina is going to have one very big election year.  Sheheen cruised to re-election victory back to the State Senate in 2012 and spent that election year campaigning for other Democratic candidates on the ballot.  With Sheheen being the top candidate on the ballot, he is sure to help rile up the base again, which is essential to winning a mid term election.  He still has to make his announcement but you can tell he has the fire in his belly to run again.  Republicans know the demographics are changing in Southern states and establishment Republicans are having a hard time keeping the Tea Party radicals in line.  There's nothing sweeter than beating Republicans on their home turf and with Sheheen, we can do just that.

Originally posted to pdc on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 09:31 AM PST.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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