The Republican Governors Association released one of the nastiest campaign ads of the year on Monday, accusing South Carolina state Senator and gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen (D) of siding with violent criminals over South Carolinians.
“It’s a fact: Trial lawyer Vincent Sheheen made money off criminals,” the ad’s female narrator says darkly. “Got a sex offender out of jail time. Defended a child abuser. And represented others charged with violent acts.”
“Sheheen defended violent criminals who abused women, and went to work setting them free. So next time Sheheen says he’ll protect women from violent criminals, ask him: What about the ones who paid him?” the ad concludes. “Vincent Sheheen protects criminals. Not us.”
The ad references Sheheen’s past legal work; although the majority of his career has focused on civil cases, he has represented at least three men who were charged with criminal domestic violence. According to incumbent governor Nikki Haley (R), that is inconsistent with his legislative plans to fight violence against women.
Democrats, predictably, disagree.
“As a former prosecutor, Vincent has seen what families and victims go through and he has worked with law enforcement to hold criminals accountable and achieve justice,” Sheheen’s campaign manager Andrew Whalen told The State. “This dishonest ad by Nikki Haley’s DC friends is a disgusting and desperate attempt to distract from children being abused and dying because of the reckless leadership at Haley’s Department of Social Services.”
Whalen’s latter remark refers to ongoing investigations into child deaths associated with the South Carolina Department of Social Services. Sheheen has called on the department’s director, Lillian Koller — a Haley appointee — to be removed from office.
The vicious attack ad makes it clear that the RGA is not taking Sheheen’s campaign lightly. Haley defeated Sheheen by 4 percent in their surprisingly-close 2010 matchup; early polling of their 2014 rematch suggests that Haley may have a more comfortable margin this November.