Barring any unexpected shifts in the Palmetto political landscape S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis will seek reelection to his post in 2014, sources close to the statewide official tell FITS.

“Curtis feels he is making real progress in bringing reform to the state’s pension fund and transparency and accountability to state government,” a Loftis aide told FITS. “But there is much left to be done.”

That assessment is accurate.  Loftis is doing the Lord’s work with regard to our state’s inefficient, underperforming retirement fund – exposing corruption and insisting that fund managers make better deals on behalf of taxpayers.  But he’s encountering stiff resistance in his efforts – and relaxing the pressure to run for governor would mean sacrificing plenty of hard-earned ground.

Obviously Loftis’ decision means he won’t be challenging S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley in a 2014 Republican gubernatorial primary – a door he previously had left wide open.  In fact Loftis previously stated that he would run against Haley in the event no other viable Republican challenger stepped forward.

Depending on which poll you trust, Haley’s current approval rating among Republican voters is between 60-70 percent.  However as we noted in a previous report, focus group research has revealed her GOP support to be exceedingly flaccid.

“Her voters aren’t motivated,” one South Carolina Republican consultant acknowledged.  ”And they express many of the same doubts (regarding) her character that Democrats and independents express.”

In other words if a Republican challenger were able to raise enough money to expose Haley’s numerous ideological betrayals, she could be in real trouble.

Obviously any GOP challenge to Haley could prove fatal to her already tenuous general election prospects.  According to one recent poll, Haley is trailing her 2010 Democratic opponent Vincent Sheheen by a 46-44 percent margin.  Sheheen is expected to run against Haley again in 2014.

There’s also a growing sense that Haley will face a third party challenge from a fiscal conservative in the 2014 general election, a scenario which would likely prove fatal to her reelection bid.