By Carlton Purvis
Vincent Sheheen made a visit to the Pee Dee on Thursday for a meet and greet with Florence and Darlington County residents and supporters at Oaklyn Plantation.
Both Republican and Democratic supporters turned out to hear a few words from the gubernatorial hopeful.
Sheheen, a Democrat, addressed a crowd of about 100 people on the steps of the Williamson family home, sharing his thoughts on job creation in the area and the importance of conservation.
"The hard working folks of South Carolina are suffering right now like they haven't in many decades," he said, referring to South Carolina's 11 percent unemployment rate.
Just more than a decade ago South Carolina had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, he added.
Ben Zeigler, a lawyer from Florence and supporter of Sheheen since he first announced his candidacy, organized the event.
"There were a group of us here in the Pee Dee who felt like Vincent's position on a number of issues, particularly investing in rural communities, was important to us," he said.
Zeigler extended the invitation to Sheheen, who accepted and made time to visit between stops in Richland County and his hometown of Camden.
Sheheen's first campaign ad also ran statewide Thursday.
"After eight years of Mark Sanford, we need a governor to lead us in a new direction," Sheheen says in standing at a dirt crossroads in the 30 second TV spot.
Sheheen elaborated on that message at the meet and greet and called Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley's ideas for repealing the sales tax exemption on groceries "shockingly out of touch."
"There's no way we should be putting a tax on food right now," he said.
"My opponent, representative Haley, has been the right-hand supporter of Mark Sanford and it hasn't got us anywhere," he said.
For that reason, Sheheen says when he travels he's greeted by enthusiastic people looking for change.
But the latest numbers from Rasmussen Reports show old habits die hard for South Carolinians.
The Rasmussen poll numbers show strong support for Haley, 52 percent to Sheheen's 36 percent.
Despite the numbers, Sheheen says he's focused on connecting with the people of South Carolina during the campaign and looks forward to seeing his supporters again, only next time as governor.
"Representative Haley travels around the state talking about accountability and officials needing to live up to higher standards, and then we learn over and over again that she doesn't even do that most basic thing we would expect our leaders to do like pay your taxes and pay to the government your employees' withholdings," Sheheen said.
"After what we've been through over the last eight years, we certainly need a better standard in our leaders."