South Carolina governor's race heats up over immigration, ports

Both Republican Nikki Haley and Democrat Vincent Sheheen had their gubernatorial campaigns running full steam ahead on Tuesday.

Ken Osburn/AP Photo/The Greenville News
South Carolina Gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley speaks at the Upstate South Carolina Alliance meeting in Greenville, S.C. Wednesday, Aug. 25.
Ken Osburn/AP Photo/The Greenville News
South Carolina Gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen speaks at the Upstate South Carolina Alliance meeting in Greenville, S.C. Wednesday, Aug. 25.

With Labor Day past, the race for South Carolina governor heated up quickly Tuesday as the campaigns of Republican Nikki Haley and Democrat Vincent Sheheen traded jabs on immigration and deepening the Charleston port.

Haley, a state representative, unveiled her first TV ad of the general election while Sheheen, a state senator, lined up the endorsement of a statewide teachers' group.

Sheheen, flanked by former state Commerce Secretary Bob Royall and other business leaders, held a news conference on a Charleston pier asking where Haley stands on getting federal money to dredge Charleston Harbor.

Later, the Haley campaign released a statement asking if Sheheen stands behind Republican state Attorney General Henry McMaster's filing a court brief last week supporting Arizona's strict new immigration law.

The candidates are vying to replace Republican Gov. Mark Sanford who cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

In Charleston, Sheheen said other East Coast ports like Savannah, Norfolk and New York already have federal budget earmarks for port deepening projects and Charleston is in danger of falling further behind competitively.

The ports mean an estimated $45 billion to the state economy.

Charleston needs $400,000 to continue with a study and deepening projects are done is through budget earmarks, he said.

"It is important for the next governor to take a stand on this issue," Sheheen said, adding he asked Haley several weeks ago about her position and has heard nothing.

He said he supports the state congressional delegation's work to get money for the harbor deepening and added, "I wish my opponent on the governor's campaign was joining me."

"Ensuring the long term strength of our port system will be one of Nikki's top priorities," responded campaign spokesman Rod Godfrey. "Our focus is on getting funding for the port, not on which bureaucratic pot of money it comes from."

Haley later asked Sheheen to support McMaster's Arizona court filing.

"Given Washington's repeated failures to secure our borders, every state has an obligation to protect its citizens," she said.

"Vincent Sheheen doesn't care about the problems in Arizona. Vincent Sheheen is more concerned about creating jobs and solving the problems of South Carolina," said the Democrat's campaign spokesman, Trav Robertson.

He added Haley must not be aware of what is in South Carolina's immigration law. He said Sheheen voted for it and it is tougher than Arizona's.

Haley's first general election ad is a 30-second spot entitled "Movement" that continues Haley's theme — raised during the primary — of running as an outsider.

The ad begins running statewide Wednesday on broadcast and cable stations. The campaign did not immediately release the dollar amount of the buy, but Godfrey said it was substantial.

An announcer says a movement is taking hold, then split screens show Haley campaigning while ordinary people comment.

A white woman then says it's a movement to take back our government while a black woman says it's to include those left out. Haley herself concludes the movement "is to give us an honest, conservative government we can be proud of."

Late Tuesday, Sheheen was to be endorsed by the South Carolina Education Association a group with 10,000 members, most of them teachers, statewide.

South Carolina is one of 37 states where there's a governor's race.

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