COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina state Sen. Tom Davis says he’s out for next year’s GOP gubernatorial race, telling The Associated Press on Wednesday he can have a greater impact on state government by continuing in the Legislature.

The 57-year-old Republican lawmaker said he concluded after considerable thought that “the timing simply isn’t right for me to run a statewide campaign … I’m just not in a position to undertake an endeavor of this magnitude.” He did not say if he planned to endorse any of the announced candidates.

Elected in November to a third four-year term representing the Beaufort area, Davis went on to say that his position in the Legislature gives him an opportunity to make more of a difference in South Carolina than from the Governor’s Mansion.

“South Carolina government is dominated by the Legislature, and recent history has shown that reform-minded governors without legislative support can’t get much accomplished,” he said. “I’m in a unique position in the state Senate to impact public policy on behalf of individual liberty and free markets — in some cases to a greater degree than if I were in the governor’s office.”

In the state Senate, Davis crafted and sponsored South Carolina’s first medical marijuana legislation, a 2014 law allowing doctors to authorize their epileptic patients to take cannabis oil to alleviate their seizures. He has also pushed for government spending reform, playing a vocal role in the recent debate over the state gas tax and road reform.

Davis previously served as chief of staff to former Gov. Mark Sanford. He served as a Trump delegate at last summer’s Republican National Convention and has since praised the president’s economic ideas but called his messaging “maddeningly inconsistent.”

Several other Republicans have announced challenges to Gov. Henry McMaster, who was elevated to the office earlier this year when Nikki Haley was confirmed as U.N. ambassador. He’s raised more than $1.8 million in his pursuit of a full term.

Former state labor director Catherine Templeton has shown fundraising strength, raising $1.5 million so far this year. Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant announced his bid this summer. Former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill is also in the race.

No Democrats have announced their intent to run.


Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP. Read more of her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/meg-kinnard/