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Nikki Haley Easily Wins SC GOP Guv Nomination

Nikki Haley

Republican candidate for Governor, Nikki Haley, celebrates her runoff victory with husband Michael Haley, left, and daughter Rena Haley. BRETT FLASHNICK/FR119234 AP hide caption

itoggle caption BRETT FLASHNICK/FR119234 AP

Nikki Haley handily won the runoff for the South Carolina Republican Party's nomination for governor, beating Rep. Gresham Barrett with 63 percent of the vote compared with his 37 percent.

By winning the nomination she became the first woman to become the gubernatorial nominee of either major party in the state.

A member of South Carolina's House, the married Haley survived a bizarre series of events late in the campaign that would have torpedoed the hopes of many a candidate when no less than two men came forward to claim they had once been her lovers.

But a scandal-weary Republican electorate clearly rejected those claims and the state's tradition of dirty politics to give Haley, the mother of two young children, a resounding victory.

The state's Republican voters also appeared to reject the prejudice that some directed at her. Her parents were Indian immigrants and Sikhs. Haley, is a Methodist who sometimes attends Sikh religious services.

Haley also likely benefited from having the support of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as well as Tea Party activists who rallied to her cause.

And she didn't appear to suffer from her ties to her fellow Republican, the exiting Gov. Mark Sanford, who scandalized not just South Carolina but much of the nation, when it turned out that he wasn't "hiking the Appalachians" as his staff told reporters after he disappeared from public view last year. Instead he was visiting his Argentinian mistress.

It didn't hurt Haley that she had the support of Jenny Sanford, the state's former first lady, who became a rather sympathetic figure after her husband's cheating became common knowledge.

Haley will face state senator Vincent Sheheen in the fall.

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