COLUMBIA, SC — A former North Carolina Democratic Party executive director and campaign manager for Tennessee football star-turned U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler will manage state Sen. Vincent Sheheen’s 2014 gubernatorial run.
Andrew Whalen introduced himself in an email to Sheheen supporters Tuesday. “I wanted to work for Vincent because he has proven time and again that he can deliver results by bringing people together and focusing on common-sense solutions,” he wrote.
Whalen, a 32-year-old Cleveland native, has worked for moderate Democrats and Democratic groups. This is his first S.C. race.
“I want to make sure our message is inclusive for all people in South Carolina, not just liberals or conservatives,” Whalen said in an interview. He declined to say how much he is being paid, adding his pay will be included in campaign finance disclosures.
Whalen was Shuler’s deputy campaign manager when the former Vols and Redskins quarterback beat Republican incumbent Charles Taylor for a congressional seat in western North Carolina in 2006. After working as communications director in Shuler’s congressional office, Whalen managed the congressman’s 2008 re-election win.
He directed the N.C. Democratic Party in 2009 and 2010 before heading Shuler’s political-action committee. Whalen spent 2011 and 2012 as national political director for the Blue Dog political-action committee, which backs fiscally conservative Democrats.
Whalen was named one of North Carolina’s top political influencers last year by the trade magazine Campaigns & Elections.
Whalen started working for the Sheheen campaign about six weeks ago. He had approached people who worked on Sheheen’s 2010 gubernatorial race about running his 2014 bid.
Sheheen lost to then-state Rep. Nikki Haley, R-Lexington, by less than five percentage points in 2010. Haley has not formally announced whether she will run again but is expected to do so soon.
Whalen said he has been working from a Camden office to build Sheheen’s campaign and fundraising operations. Will Blanton is returning as Sheheen’s finance director – the same position he held in 2010, Whalen said.