FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was in the Pee Dee Wednesday and tossing her weight into the Senate race.
During her visit, Haley did not hold back when it came to saying it's time for Sen. Hugh Leatherman to leave office.
"I think South Carolina can do better, I think Florence can do better by moving forward. I think 36 years is long enough," Haley said. "This is not personal. I respect Sen. Leatherman, I respect his 36 years of service, but I think it's time that we move on to someone else."
The governor delivered that message before a packed house in downtown Florence.
She urged voters to back former Florence County Republican chairman and businessman Richard Skipper at the polls.
"What we have seen with Sen. Leatherman is he has tried to raise income taxes, he has tried to raise sales taxes on cellphones and he's tried to raise gas taxes," Haley said. "There is not a tax that he hasn't tried to raise and the sad part is that he's doing it with the Democrats."
WMBF News reached out to Leatherman's camp twice, asking for a comment about Haley's endorsement.
Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone said in a statement that he, "lost a lot of respect for Nikki Haley today," following her comments about Leatherman.
"Her decision to come to Florence County, attack Sen. Leatherman and tell us how to vote is insulting," Boone said. "While Gov. Haley is politicking on the streets of Florence, Sen. Leatherman is doing his job in the Senate, protecting our farmers and fighting to pass a strong roads bill, without raising taxes. Over the years, Hugh Leatherman has backed law enforcement and worked to bring 5,000 new jobs and $600 million in new investment to our county. I'm proud of our senator, and I'm glad he has the courage to stand up to the governor when she's wrong."
WMBF News also reached out to the third candidate running for the seat, Florence County Treasure Dean Fowler, and he gave the following quote:
"South Carolina politics has become a contest between the forces of power and the people of the inconsequential! Hopefully voters can see through the charade. God help us.
On Monday, the three candidates have been invited to face off by the Florence County Republican Party.
The debate is scheduled for 7 p.m., at the Floyd Conference Center.