Tim Pearson, chief of staff for Gov. Nikki Haley, is leaving the Governor’s Office later this month to run Haley’s “political operation in anticipation of a re-election campaign,” according to the governor’s spokesman.
“Gov. Haley has made no decision yet about re-election, and likely will not until after the next legislative session,” Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey wrote in an email to The State.
Also in an email, Haley praised Pearson for his “tireless dedication” and “integrity, intelligence and common sense.”
“He has my great personal thanks. While Tim leaves large shoes to fill in the governor's office, fortunately he will not be going far. I look forward to receiving his good counsel in the days and months ahead," Haley said.
Godfrey said the governor has not announced who will take Pearson’s place. But possible candidates include Haley’s three deputy chiefs of staff: Katherine Haltiwanger, former state lawmaker Ted Pitts, and Christian Soura, the governor’s budget expert.
Pearson ran Haley’s first campaign for governor, when Haley overcame a double-digit deficit in the polls to defeat two of the state Republican Party’s most powerful politicians. Haley endorsed Mitt Romney months before South Carolina’s January Republican presidential primary and has been one of his most prominent surrogates ever since.
But Haley has insisted she will not accept a cabinet position or other administrative post with Romney should he win in November.
Meanwhile, all signs continue to point to Haley running for reelection. She has continued to raise money, frequently holding out-of-state fundraisers during her first two years in office. She has nearly $1 million available to spend, according to her latest financial disclosure.
Also, some close Haley allies have formed a political action committee -- The Movement Fund Inc. -- which can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to support candidates and causes. So far, the group has raised $550,000 from four donors -- including Donald Trump.