South Carolina state Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) announced Wednesday that he is “taking steps” to launch a 2014 gubernatorial campaign, likely pitting the Democratic lawmaker against current Republican Gov. Nikki Haley.

Sheheen announced his bid in an email to supporters and took the opportunity to blast the Haley administration’s record, calling it “failed and dysfunctional," Columbia Patch reports.

“Our state deserves better than the failed and dysfunctional government it has received from our current politicians,” Sheheen wrote. “Now, we need leaders.”

Sheheen -- the only Democrat thus far to jump in the 2014 South Carolina race for governor -- ran a close but unsuccessful bid against Haley in 2010, losing by a 4-point margin. However, citing South Carolina’s high unemployment rate and the state’s recent data hacking debacle, Sheheen said he believes he's in a strong position to win in 2014.

“Three years ago, we came so very close to changing South Carolina for the better,” Sheheen wrote in the email. “Now we can finish the job together.”

Tim Pearson, chief political adviser to Haley, responded to Sheheen’s announcement Wednesday, brushing off any potential threat the Democratic lawmaker may pose if Haley decides to seek reelection.

"Vincent has been running for governor his entire adult life -- but it is ironic that Vincent Sheheen, a pro-labor union trial lawyer, would announce his candidacy the day after Boeing announced 2,000 new jobs in South Carolina,” Pearson told Columbia Patch. “Vincent's message to job-creators, 'we'll raise your taxes, have trial lawyers take you to court, and let the labor unions push you around.' Real inviting."

A December 2012 Public Policy Polling poll found that Haley could be vulnerable in a 2014 election; 42 percent of voters said they approved of her job performance and 49 percent said they disapproved. The December poll also found Sheheen leading Haley 46 percent to 44 percent, with 10 percent of voters undecided.

Read Sheheen’s entire email below:

South Carolina is the greatest state in the union, with unlimited potential. But let's face it, the status quo is not working.

I want what you want - a South Carolina that our families, and the families of our children and grandchildren, can be successful in. For South Carolina to succeed, we have to change. And we need change now!

That’s why today I’m taking steps to launch a campaign for governor.

Our state deserves better than the failed and dysfunctional government it has received from our current politicians. Now, we need leaders.

South Carolina has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, and has for the last 10 years. Under Governor Haley, more South Carolinians are having trouble finding work than people in other states, and our small businesses have been ignored.

South Carolina families pay the highest college tuition rates in the southeast and our families have a harder time achieving the American Dream than in almost any other state. Yet our current governor almost never talks about public education.
This administration's dysfunction allowed hackers to steal the most personal and private information that more than three million of us have and the Governor has refused to apologize or take responsibility for it.

There’s a better way.

In the coming months, we’ll build our organization and officially launch the campaign this summer. Three years ago, we came so very close to changing South Carolina for the better. Now we can finish the job together. I hope you will join us.

Together we can create stronger schools for all of our children, help small businesses grow and create jobs, and restore honesty to our state’s government. We need a governor whose top priority is the people of South Carolina and not the politics of ideology and ambition. I pledge to you that I will be the kind of governor we so desperately need.

We will get there together. You can help us start today by contributing $500, $250, $100, $50, or whatever you can afford.

Today we start our journey to change South Carolina's tomorrow.

I couldn't be more excited, and I hope you are too!

Let's believe again,

Vincent

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