ELECTION 2014: RGA running ads backing Nikki Haley starting next week

Posted by ANDREW SHAIN on February 27, 2014 

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announces her re-election bid outside the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com Buy Photo

— The Republican Governors Association will begin a television ad campaign next week to bolster first-term GOP Gov. Nikki Haley’s re-election bid, according to two sources familiar with the campaign.

An estimated $200,000 in ads is slated to run in the Columbia, Greenville, Charleston and Myrtle Beach markets.

The content of the ads was not available Thursday, though they are expected to criticize Haley’s likely Democratic opponent Vincent Sheheen’s support for the Affordable Care Act.

The RGA declined to confirm the ad buy, which would the group’s first for Haley in the 2014 race. The governor’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Haley sits on the RGA’s executive committee. She was one of four GOP governors who spoke at a RGA news conference after the nation’s state CEOs met Monday with Democratic President Barack Obama at the White House.

The Democratic Governors Association has pledged to help Sheheen, a state senator from Camden, try again to beat the governor. The Camden attorney lost to the Haley by 4.5 percentage points in 2010. The DGA would not discuss its ad plans.

Democrats think Haley is vulnerable, citing her sub-50 percent approval rating and mishaps in her first term, notably the massive 2012 data breach at the S.C. Department of Revenue. The DGA gave about $87,000 to the S.C. Democratic Party last year, according to S.C. Ethics Commission filings.

“Nikki Haley’s in deep trouble and clearly the RGA knows it,” the S.C. Democratic Party said in a statement. “It’s no wonder Nikki Haley had to desperately call in help from her buddies in D.C.”

DGA spokesman Danny Kanner added, "If the RGA thinks they can cover up Nikki Haley's record of gross incompetence with flashy TV ads smearing Vincent Sheheen, they are in for a rude awakening."

In her effort to win a second four-year term in November, Haley has touted her job-creation record, and proposals to reform K-12 education and state ethics laws.

Republicans have tried to tie Sheheen to Obama since the senator said he was willing to take the first three years of the federal health care plan, at no cost to the state, that Haley rejected.

A year ago, The Movement Fund, a pro-Haley political group, spent about $300,000 to air television spots questioning Sheheen’s support of nationwide health care reform.

“Vincent Sheheen’s unyielding support for Obamacare despite warnings of the damage it would cause in South Carolina proves that his support for liberal policies are out of step with the people of his state,” RGA spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said.

The RGA gave $52,000 to the S.C. GOP party in 2013 and $50,000 in late 2012.

Neither Haley nor Sheheen has a primary challenger.

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