A Beaufort County senator and former chief of staff for Gov. Mark Sanford indicated Wednesday he would not run for governor of South Carolina, believing he could better serve the state by remaining in the legislature.
State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, has a reputation as one of the Senate’s more Libertarian-leaning members. Rumors have swirled for the past several weeks that Davis was considering whether to be the fifth Republican to enter the race. But he quashed those rumors this week.
“(I’ve) concluded the timing simply isn’t right for me to run a statewide campaign,” Davis said in a statement. “From a family standpoint, a business standpoint and a personal standpoint, I’m just not in a position to undertake an endeavor of this magnitude. This became evident to me during conversations with my family, friends and constituents over the past few days.”
Davis said he was “self-conscious” about making the announcement as the state’s focus shifts towards an approaching Hurricane Irma, but said he had promised an announcement after Labor Day. In his statement, Davis said he felt he could accomplish more by remaining in the Senate. “(R)ecent history has shown that reform-minded governors without legislative support can’t get much accomplished,” he said.
The announcement means one fewer GOP challenger for incumbent Gov. Henry McMaster, who moved into the state’s top office when previous Gov. Nikki Haley resigned in January to become United Nations ambassador. Also running on the Republican side are McMaster’s replacement Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, former Department of Health and Environmental Control director Catherine Templeton and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill.
No Democratic candidates have declared for the race so far, but State Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia, is rumored to be considering a run.
Davis served as chief of staff for former Gov. Mark Sanford and helped chair Sanford’s successful election and reelection campaigns. He was first elected to the Senate in 2008.