Billy Wilkins considering run for governor in ’18

Wilkins is the former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals

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Billy Wilkins, a Greenville attorney and former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, said he is considering running for governor in 2018.

Wilkins, 74, told the Greenville Journal he is seriously considering a Republican bid, but has not made a final decision.

“I’ve just started the thought process,” he said. “I am considering it but I’m certainly not anywhere close to making a decision.”

Filing for the governor’s race won’t begin until 2018.

Wilkins said he is weighing how much money and what kind of organization would be needed for a lengthy political campaign.

“I’m not going to make a final decision before I sit down and have a firm plan in my mind as to where I want to be two years from now and how to get there,” Wilkins said.

He added, “It may be I decide I want to stay practicing law. That’s a serious sacrifice for me to give up.”

If he runs, Wilkins would join what likely will be a crowded field to succeed Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican.

Other potential GOP gubernatorial candidates could include Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster, Attorney General Alan Wilson and State Rep. Tommy Pope of York.

Wilkins returned to private practice in Greenville in 2008 after retiring from the appellate court.

He also is former chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

At Nexsen Pruet, Wilkins leads the law firm’s white-collar criminal defense, appellate advocacy, and corporate compliance/crisis management practices and serves clients through his work in the firm’s business litigation group.

For Wilkins, key issues are education and economic development, which he says translates into “good-paying jobs.”

“We want safe streets and safe communities,” he said. ”But I think the biggest thing in most everybody’s mind is building a strong education system and building a strong economy within the state.”

A Greenville native, Wilkins is a former Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Solicitor, a post now held by his son, Walt Wilkins.

The elder Wilkins is widely credited with playing a pivotal role in negotiating the deal that brought the Boeing facility to North Charleston.

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