COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley announced Tuesday the names of 164 people who have agreed to help her get re-elected, even while reiterating she won’t decide until this summer whether she’ll seek a second term.
Haley said in a statement first provided to The Associated Press that state Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly will head a statewide steering committee.
The Republican governor named 164 local volunteers who will spread her message. The committee consists of at least one person from each of the 46 counties. Richland County, home to the state’s capital, has the most, with 15 volunteer co-chairmen, followed by Beaufort County, with 12, and Greenville County, with 11.
Haley has repeatedly said she won’t decide her plans for 2014 until after the legislative session ends this summer.
“However, she has instructed our team to get prepared in the event that she does run,” said campaign political director Kurt Pickhardt. “We are enormously grateful for this outpouring of support even before our campaign is up and running.”
The announcement comes four months after former chief of staff Tim Pearson left that post to head up Haley’s possible run. Pearson managed Haley’s successful campaign in 2010, in which the three-term House member beat three better-known Republicans in a come-from-behind primary win.
“Gov. Haley has been running for re-election since the day she was sworn in,” said Kristin Sosanie, spokeswoman for the state Democratic Party. “This is just the latest example of her saying one thing and doing another.”
The announced volunteers include Glenn McCall of York County, a GOP national committeeman for South Carolina; Trey Walker, Haley’s former deputy chief of staff who resigned in 2011 to take a job with the University of South Carolina; and Kristin Maguire, former Gov. Mark Sanford’s appointee to the state Board of Education. The homeschooling mother was board chairwoman when she resigned in 2009.
A rematch with Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden is widely expected. He hasn’t made any announcement either, but a decision is expected this spring. Haley beat Sheheen in 2010 with 51 percent of the vote, compared to his 47 percent.
As of Dec. 31, Haley had $1.5 million cash on hand in her campaign coffers. She is holding another out-of-state fundraiser Monday while in Washington for the Republican Governors Association’s winter meeting. Attendees are to include U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, whom Haley appointed to the post after former Sen. Jim DeMint resigned.
It marks Haley’s third fundraiser so far this quarter. She had six fundraisers last quarter, half of them out of state.
Sheheen had less than $100,000 cash available in his Senate campaign account as of Dec. 31.
He faced no opposition for re-election last year in either the primary or general election. Phil Bailey, a spokesman for Senate Democrats, has said Sheheen concentrated on helping other Democratic candidates in their 2012 election bids.