A longtime State House Democrat and Army veteran has announced his bid for South Carolina governor.

State Rep. James Smith of Columbia announced his candidacy Thursday after months of speculation. He is the only Democrat in the 2018 race.

The 50-year-old Columbia native says he feels called to do all he can for the people of South Carolina. Smith says he returned home from Afghanistan in 2008 a "different man," less caught up in petty Statehouse politics and wanting to do more.

Smith was first elected to the House in 1996.

He opened a campaign account last month toward an expected gubernatorial run.

Gov. Henry McMaster is seeking his first full term. His announced GOP challengers are Catherine Templeton, Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill.