S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster said Wednesday during a stop in Beaufort that he intends to seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2010.
"I'm planning on entering the race," McMaster said after a speech to about 100 members of the Beaufort Rotary Club at St. Peter's Catholic Church on Lady's Island. "We've yet to make an official announcement, but we'll do that soon. We don't have a date for that announcement.
"Right now, we're getting organized, and we've been met with great enthusiasm, which is always a good thing."
McMaster, 62, a Columbia native, told the Rotary club that the ongoing legal spat between McMaster's office and Internet classified advertising giant Craigslist is far from over.
McMaster gained national attention last month after he threatened criminal charges if Craigslist did not immediately block ads from its site soliciting prostitution. Craigslist countered-sued McMaster, asking a federal judge in Charleston to intervene.
McMaster agreed last month to a temporary restraining order that prevents him from bringing criminal charges against Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster and other executives, but said he plans to continue the fight.
"Don't change that dial," McMaster said. "We have another hearing in June. If (Craigslist) is knowingly putting prostitution ads on their site then, according to South Carolina state law, they are aiding and abetting prostitution, and they will be prosecuted."
McMaster said his four years as the state's U.S. attorney and his eight years as attorney general make him uniquely qualified to be governor.
"I've held two executive offices, oversaw employees and managed multi-million dollar budgets and done so with success," he said. "Experience counts, and my potential opponents don't have that. They're nice people, but they don't have that executive experience."
McMaster graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in history in 1969 and from the university's law school in 1973.
U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, R-Aiken, formally announced his candidacy in March. Though he has not publicly declared his intention to run, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer of Charleston is also expected to enter the race.