COLUMBIA, SC — The battle of the 2014 S.C. gubernatorial attack websites is set.
The S.C. GOP unveiled a site Tuesday slamming Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden, vincesheheen.com. S.C. Democrats already have their own site online, featuring rebukes of the tenure of Republican Gov. Nikki Haley of Lexington, nikkihaleyfacts.com.
The sites go along with Facebook pronouncements by the campaigns and bickering tweets between party operatives about the candidates expected to meet next year in a rematch of their 2010 race. Haley won by 4.5 percentage points three years ago.
Undecided voters are the targets of the websites, which The Citadel political scientist Scott Buchanan called inexpensive 21st-century attack ads. But with the election 14 months away, those undecided voters might not even be thinking about the 2014 race yet, he said. And as Election Day approaches, they likely will look more at debates and other news coverage to help choose a candidate.
“(The sites) don’t work on voters who already have solidified opinions,” Buchanan said. “And there are many of them in South Carolina.”
However, that won’t keep the 2014 opponents from hammering each other on cyberspace.
The GOP says atop its site, “Vince Sheheen: Job killer whose record, vision would be catastrophic for South Carolina’s economy.” The Democrats counter with, “Under Nikki Haley, South Carolina is one of the hardest places to make a living.”
State Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, who spoke to the media after a GOP briefing Tuesday, said he hoped reporters would check the claims on both sites. “A lot of times, they are put out there for (the) purpose of getting a headline.”
S.C. GOP chairman Matt Moore said the campaign will not be waged on the web.
“This is a battle that’s going to be fought in living rooms and in churches and in small businesses across the state. This is not about the web,” he said. “This is about giving South Carolinians the sorts of information they need to make good decisions.”
Democrats have griped about Republicans calling Sheheen, whose first name is Vincent, “Vince” in their press releases and now on the website, suggesting the GOP is trying to paint their candidate as a dark figure.
However, fellow Democrat Hutto said he does not mind Sheheen’s shortened moniker.
“Those of us who know him well call him ‘Vince’ from time to time,” Hutto said. “I’m looking forward to calling him Gov. Sheheen.”