Columbia, South Carolina (CNN) – Mitt Romney may get the support of a statewide elected official with strong tea party ties in South Carolina who believes the former Massachusetts governor is the only candidate who can beat President Barack Obama.
State Treasurer Curtis Loftis tells CNN that plans for an announcement have not been made when Romney visits the early Southern primary state on Labor Day.
Romney’s campaign has not responded to e-mails requesting comment, but a source familiar with discussions tells CNN that Loftis is considering signing on as Romney’s state chairman, the role held by Sen. Jim DeMint in 2008.
Loftis was elected in 2010, the year that tea party support helped catapult people including Gov. Nikki Haley and Loftis over Republican-establishment candidates into office.
“Grassroots Republicans love Curtis Loftis. He’s doing what he said he’d do and people respond to that,” the state’s Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly said.
Loftis was in North Dakota attending a state treasurers’ conference when CNN reached him earlier this week. He would not confirm his intentions to join the Romney camp but spoke candidly about the importance of electing someone who can beat Obama in November 2012.
“My friends, they’re thrilled with the candidates, but they’re not going to throw their vote away,” Loftis said. “Tea party people are a lot more pragmatic than people give them credit for.”
Romney rescheduled a speech at a tea party rally in New Hampshire in order to visit South Carolina and attend a conservative group’s forum on Labor Day hosted by DeMint.
The two-time presidential candidate came in fourth in the state’s 2008 primary.