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Finish line in sight for Sheheen

Posted: October 29, 2010 3:42 p.m.
Updated: November 1, 2010 5:00 a.m.

Vincent Sheheen’s donning a greenish Southern Tide polo and, “man, it feels good,” he says standing on Broad Street in Camden, outside an event for U.S. Rep. John Spratt.

For the last 18 months, Vincent – Camden and Kershaw County’s Vincent -- has been in suits, touring the world of South Carolina too many times to count.

Sheheen, 39, said he was never daunted at the prospect of running a statewide gubernatorial campaign.

“It’s a challenge, but it’s a great experience,” he said.

Win or lose, what awaits Sheheen following Nov. 2 are more dinners with his wife, Amy, twins Austin and Joseph, and Anthony, his youngest son.

“The hardest part of the campaign is being away from your family. That certainly has to be the greatest sacrifice … I’m looking forward to dinners my wife and boys,” said Sheheen, adding that, even during the campaign, he tried to be home each night. “I’d say through the campaign, I only spent maybe 10 nights away from home.”

If that figure is accurate, it’s a remarkable one, considering the travel and campaigning necessary for a governor’s race.

Looking back at his campaign -- and hindsight being 20/20 -- Sheheen said he probably wouldn’t have spent as much money as he did in the primaries.

“I thought it was important to win outright and not have a run-off … but it sure would’ve been nice to start off (the general election campaign) with another half million dollars in the bank, because money is a driving force in politics,” he said.

As a kid, Sheheen never had political aspirations, he said.

“I wanted to be a veterinarian. That changed freshman year in college when I got my classes that were calculus of five variables. I was interested in history, so I went into political science where we got to study a lot of history and ideas,” Sheheen said.

After coming back to Camden following law school in Columbia, and becoming involved in this organization and that foundation, as often happens, politics came calling.

“I got involved in so many different things. In a small town, you get involved in everything, and then there was an opportunity I thought I could make a difference,” Sheheen said.

Sheheen’s obscurity just two years ago might have played to his advantage.

“South Carolina tends to elect young, relatively unknown candidates to the governor’s office. It’s probably not an accident the two nominees were the two least known candidates,” he said.

While not shocked by his opponent’s victory in the Republican primary, Sheheen said he actually thought Gresham Barrett would be the nominee as opposed to Nikki Haley.

In examining the contrast between Barrett and Haley, Sheheen said Haley’s “much more divisive, much more polarizing than Gresham.”

Final words Vincent would like to leave with the voters of South Carolina?

“The most important thing in this election is we have a governor we can trust. If there’s one thing I’ve tried to show, it’s that the voters can trust what I say, and that I’ll do what I say,” said Sheheen. “And what I’d say to the people in Camden, after traveling this state for a year and a half, Camden is a very special place.”

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