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It’s been a terrible week for S.C. Sen. Vincent Sheheen’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign …

First (and most importantly) the Camden Democrat has embraced a massive expansion of South Carolina’s Medicaid program – one which would swell the Palmetto State’s socialized medicine rolls by nearly 55 percent over the next seven years. While South Carolina Democrats claim this issue is a political winner for them, we think Sheheen has made a major tactical error.

Why?

Well, South Carolina Democrats are going to vote for their party’s nominee … reflexively. And early polling shows Sheheen is picking up a lot of independents who are frustrated with the barrage of scandals affecting incumbent “Republican” Nikki Haley. If Sheheen stands any chance of beating Haley in 2014, though, he’s also going to need to eat away at the governor’s GOP support (which consultants of both parties acknowledge is do-able).

Given the extent to which the Haley administration is expanding Medicaid (nearly 130,000 new beneficiaries this year, according to her Department of Health and Human Services) – Sheheen could have seized a major strategic advantage with GOP voters on this issue.

Basically, he could have blasted the governor for pushing “Haleycare” on the taxpayers of South Carolina at the same time she was demonizing Obama’s Medicaid expansion. Instead, Sheheen has embraced this much bigger Medicaid expansion – taking away a potent line of attack against Haley and gift-wrapping a club with which the governor can beat him about the head next year.

Stupid, stupid, stupid …

Another significant blow fell on Sheheen’s campaign this week when Morgan Bruce Reeves – a third (and fourth) party candidate who took 1.5 percent of the state’s popular vote in 2010 – signaled his intentions to run again.

“I’m going to be exploring my chances for [the] 2014 governor’s race,” the black independent told The (Columbia, S.C.) Free Times.

How significant is this?

Well, subtract 1.5 percent from  Haley’s 2010 total (and add the same amount to Sheheen’s total) and all of a sudden we’re looking at a race that’s close to dead even – and let’s not forget 2010 was the mother of all “Republican” wave elections, in which straight ticket GOP voters were the key to Haley’s less-than-impressive victory.

Think 1.5 percent of the vote won’t matter in 2014? Think again … 

To win, Sheheen needs to keep Reeves out of the race – and find ways to get to Haley’s right on bread-and-butter fiscal issues.

So far he is failing miserably on both fronts … increasing the likelihood that South Carolina will be stuck with four more years of Haley’s antics.

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