Vincent Sheheen got a warm welcome from Aiken County Democratic Party members as the keynote speaker at the annual Dorn-Derrick Dinner Thursday.
The state senator from Kershaw County ran for governor in 2010 and appears to be moving toward a second try against incumbent Republican Gov. Nikki Haley in 2014.
Sheheen cited the GOP and Haley for a status quo approach riddled by ethics issues, and a tendency of the governor to travel around the country and leave South Carolina behind.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do yet, but I know I have to make the decision in the next couple of months,” Sheheen said after the meeting.
A Democrat can win in South Carolina, he said, as most people are dissatisfied with the current administration. He is releasing a book, “The Right Way: Getting the Palmetto State Back on Track.” Sheheen describes the book as a policy platform with new ideas that can elevate the debate and not settle for sound bites.
“We need a healthy two-party system in our state,” he said. “When you have one of the highest unemployment rates in the state in last two administrations, people are willing to say, ‘let’s look at another way to do it.’”
South Carolina’s median income is among the nation’s lowest and its residents rank third from the bottom overall in economic mobility, Sheheen said.
In a story that made national news, millions of South Carolinians saw their personal finance records stolen by computer hackers through the S.C. Department of Revenue.
Yet the governor stood up before the people and said no one was to blame, Sheheen said. He and other officials – including Aiken Delegation members and Democrats Rep. Bill Clyburn and Sen. Nikki Setzler – asked the agency for policy compliance records. What he received, Sheheen said, was redacted.
“That’s transparency?” he said. “That’s accountability in the Governor’s administration, an accountability that doesn’t exist.”
Sheheen expressed the need to support public education by creating universal 4-year-old kindergarten.
The Republicans are spending millions to make it harder to vote in South Carolina, he said.
In 1994, the state had 1,045 Highway Patrol officers. With a far higher population and more cars on the road, South Carolina now has only 800 troopers to patrol the state, Sheheen said.
He expressed pride in those attending the Dorn-Derrick Dinner as Democrats who understand that government should be part of the solutions, not the problem.
Aiken City Council member Lessie Price received the Democratic Party’s first Lifetime Achievement Award.
A new City Council member, Gail Diggs, received the Elise O. Curtis Memorial Award. She is the director of Outreach and Community Service at the Margaret J. Weston Health Center.
Clyburn was presented the Richard Johnson Jr., Award. He has represented the S.C. House since 1995.