The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Republican U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett and Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen in their respective bids for governor.
The Chamber is the state's largest business-oriented advocacy group.
Barrett, the group said, "has a solid jobs plan and economic vision for the state" including maintaining South Carolina's right-to-work labor rules, comprehensive tax reform and emphasis on finding alternative energy sources. Barrett is competing against Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, state Rep. Nikki Haley and Attorney General Henry McMaster for the nomination.
Sheheen got credit for supporting comprehensive tax reform, expanding the port and improving the technical college system and supporting low-cost energy sources and small businesses. His experiences in the General Assembly, the Chamber said, "make him equipped to handle the demands leading the state."
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State Sen. Robert Ford and Superintendent of Education Jim Rex also are running on the Democratic side.
This is the first year the state Chamber has endorsed candidates for governor.
"It is vitally important the business community be involved in the 2010 race for governor," said Otis Rawl, president and CEO of the Chamber, citing the difficulty of creating jobs in a poor economy. "The Chamber is a bipartisan organization that knows real and sustained success for South Carolina will not happen unless both parties work alongside one another."
McMaster's campaign responded to the endorsement, noting that Chamber members who work for financial institutions "owe a special debt of gratitude" to Barrett for his 2008 vote in favor of the Troubled Asset Relief Program bank rescue bill.
The Chamber is a lobbying group used to working with Columbia and Washington legislative insiders, McMaster's campaign said, though McMaster has frequently touted his ability to work with lawmakers from his time as Attorney General.