This year looks like the best chance the Democrats have had in eight years to take the Governor’s Mansion in Columbia. First, there is the endorsement of the state Chamber of Commerce (

While many may affiliate the Chamber of Commerce with the Republican Party and its pro-corporate values, the South Carolina chapter recently broke from that tradition by endorsing a Democratic candidate for governor.

On June 23, the Chamber announced it would stand behind state Sen. Vincent Sheheen.

In the primary elections, the Chamber endorsed both Sheheen and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Gresham Barrett.

Barrett was defeated by state Sen. Nikki Haley in the June 22 runoff, and by a decisive 65-35 margin.

Haley’s victory played a part in the Chamber’s decision to continue its Sheheen endorsement into the general election, according to its president and CEO Otis Rawl.

“Our governor and assembly have just battled for eight years now and we’ve been kind of at a standstill in a lot of areas,” said Rawl.

And now it looks like skeptical Republicans may be lining up behind Sheheen. Five months until Election Day and anything can happen.

State Republicans turned toward November on Wednesday, gathering to pledge their support a day after settling a rough-and-tumble gubernatorial primary.

But with the nomination of state Rep. Nikki Haley, a protégé of Gov. Mark Sanford, the question is will moderate Republicans get on board or abandon ship for Democratic nominee state Sen. Vincent Sheheen?

Standing with the employees of Columbia printing and promotional firm R.L. Bryan Co., Sheheen’s message was not subtle: Business is standing behind him. Robert Royall, who served as commerce secretary for Republican Gov. David Beasley, said he would help raise money for Sheheen. The S.C. Chamber of Commerce endorsed the Democrat in the primary and said Tuesday it would back him this fall….

“Through my years at the port and Commerce and working as a banker for many years, I look at the race through economic eyes,” Royall said. “Right now, we’ve got to have a unifier, a leader who understands government, how it functions. Vincent is that person. He is a very smart, young, energetic legislator. The state needs a moderate-type leader like him right now.”

Royall, who was an early Sheheen contributor, did not criticize Haley, saying he does not know much about her.

“I’ve known the Sheheen family for 50 years. They’ve all been strong public servants. Vincent clearly has that quality, too,” Royall said.

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