Rick Perry joins other GOP governors as Haley launches campaign

SEANNA ADCOX, Associated Press


GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was to be joined Monday by three other Republican governors as she officially kicks off her re-election campaign in the ultra-conservative northwestern part of the state.

The public rally with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker will be followed by a private fundraiser with the potential presidential candidates.

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The event officially sets up the long-expected rematch between Haley and Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden. Haley won in 2010 with 51 percent of the vote over Sheheen’s 47 percent.

Few doubted Haley would seek a second term. While she put off an announcement until after the legislative session, she gave obvious hints. That included her former chief of staff leaving her office last October to run her then-purportedly-potential campaign. Her office spokesman made the move to campaign mode earlier this month.

Sheheen announced a second bid in April. No one else from either party has indicated plans to jump into the race.

Haley’s war chest for 2014 already tops $2.4 million, compared to less than $600,000 cash Sheheen had available at the end of June. But Sheheen outraised her in the second quarter, his first as an official candidate. Monday’s high-dollar fundraiser is sure to provide Haley a third-quarter boost, while giving the presidential contenders an opportunity to mingle with motivated donors in an early primary state.

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Tickets to the fundraiser at a Greenville developer’s home start at $1,000 a couple. For $3,500 per couple, attendees can arrive 30 minutes earlier and get photos taken with the governors. State law limits donations to statewide candidates to $3,500 per campaign cycle.

Walker is returning a favor to Haley with his first visit to South Carolina. His spokesman said earlier this month that Walker was attending the fundraiser at Haley’s invitation, since she had come to Wisconsin on his behalf during last year’s recall.

Perry was in South Carolina in January 2012 when he dropped out of the last presidential contest. He exited the race just two days before the state’s first-in-the-South primary.