12 SC mayors endorse Sen. Vincent Sheheen for governor

abeam@thestate.comAugust 21, 2013 

SC State Senator Vincent Sheheen (D-Camden)

— Twelve S.C. mayors have endorsed Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen for governor in 2014, according to Sheheen’s campaign.

The mayors include longtime Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and Joseph McElveen, the mayor of Sumter and father of Democratic state Sen. Thomas McElveen.

“Vincent understands the importance of Charleston’s port for our economy, as well as the economy of the entire state, and he stands with us in supporting its dredging,” Riley said in a statement released by Sheheen’s campaign. “He stands with our region in building a clean-energy economy and supporting our local, small businesses to grow jobs. Vincent stands with Lowcountry families in improving public education and expanding access to 4-year old kindergarten.”

Both Sheheen and Republican Gov. Nikki Haley can take credit for supporting dredging Charleston’s port. Sheheen voted for the 2012 state budget that set aside $300 million for the project, and Haley signed it. Sheheen lead the effort to expand the state’s 4-year-old kindergartenprogram into 17 poor school districts. Haley is expected to announce her own education reform proposal later this year.

And Haley has touted her efforts at attracting businesses to South Carolina, including the more than 36,800 jobs that have been announced during Haley’s first term as governor. Sheheen, however, points to the state’s 8.1 percent unemployment rate, which is tied with Connecticut for the 14th highest rate in the country.

Other mayors that endorsed Sheheen include:

• Welborn Adams of Greenwood

• Junie White of Spartanburg

• Steve Wukela of Florence

• Andy Ingram of Cheraw

• John Douglas of Chesterfield

• Ann Taylor of Heath Springs

• Doug Echols of Rock Hill

• Tony Scully of Camden

• Wayne Rhodes of Kershaw

• Lovith Anderson of Lake City

So far, Sheheen is the only announced Democratic candidate for governor. Haley, who defeated Sheheen in 2010, is scheduled to formally announce her reelection plans on Monday in Greenville.

“It’s no surprise that mayors like Steve Wukela and Welborn Adams, who have championed Obamacare, would support Vince Sheheen – since Vince is South Carolina’s biggest cheerleader for Obamacare,” Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said in an email to The State newspaper. “We expect more liberals to endorse Vince in the days ahead.”

Sheheen supports a temporary expansion of the state’s Medicaid program for three years under the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The federal government would pay 100 percent of the expansion costs for the first three years. After that, the state would begin to pay for some of the costs, eventually up to 10 percent. Haley opposes the expansion, citing studies that estimate the expansion would cost South Carolina hundreds of millions of dollars.

Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.

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