— U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan announced Monday that he won't run for South Carolina governor next year.
"I am ruling out running for governor in '18," Duncan said after touring the construction site of a nursing home in Greenwood.
"I'm focused on serving the 3rd District," he said.
The Republican from Laurens is serving his fourth term in a district that includes part of Greenville and all of Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties.
Duncan said President Donald Trump's decision to name former Gov. Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations was a "game-changer" for the governor's race. Haley was replaced in January by former Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster, who intends to run for a full-term in the governor's mansion in 2018.
"You see a lot of folks that aren’t even thinking about it now," said Duncan, who had been mentioned as a potential candidate for governor before Haley left office.
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott said last week that he won't run for governor.
State Rep. Tommy Pope also has abandoned his gubernatorial campaign and instead is running for the U.S. House seat previously held by Mick Mulvaney, who is now serving in the Trump administration as director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Catherine Templeton, an attorney from Mt. Pleasant who is former director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, announced last week that she will run for governor. Former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill also has opened a campaign account to take part in the governor's race. Templeton and McGill are both Republican.
Follow Kirk Brown of the Anderson Independent Mail on Twitter @KirkBrown_AIM