Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant said Friday that he is running for governor of South Carolina to eradicate the "culture of corruption in Columbia."

"It is my goal and the goal of our campaign to bring integrity back to Columbia as we promote your liberty and protect your wallet," said Bryant, a Republican from Anderson who became lieutenant governor shortly after starting his fourth term in the state Senate term in January.

Bryant's announcement at a news conference culminated months of speculation about his 2018 political plans. The pharmacist was joined by his parents, wife, three children, daughter-in-law and other relatives at the news conference, which was held at the Cromer Food Services compound in Anderson.

As a state senator, Bryant earned a reputation as one of the chamber's most conservative members on both economic and social issues.

Bryant consistently voted against taxes and and government regulations that he believes interfere with free-market principles. He is a strong supporter of school choice and has sought to discourage foreign refugees from resettling in South Carolina. He also opposes abortion and is seeking to cut off all state funding for Planned Parenthood.

He is the fourth Republican to enter the 2018 governor's race, but the first from the Upstate. The other candidates include Gov. Henry McMaster, former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill and Charleston attorney Catherine Templeton, who is the former director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.