Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Nikki Haley Wins S.C. Gubernatorial Primary
Nikki Haley just completed an improbable odyssey to seize the GOP nomination for governor in South Carolina, the Associated Press reports. Now the 38-year-old legislator hopes to go one better, and become her state's first female chief executive.
Haley won GOP voters' nod despite -- or perhaps because of -- her relative inexperience (see voter comments, below). She bested a crowded primary field of more senior office-holders, including Rep. Gresham Barrett, her opponent in Tuesday's runoff. And she won despite allegations of extramarital affairs, which she denied.
She starts the general election campaign against Democrat Vincent Sheheen as a favorite. That's because the Palmetto State trends strongly Republican: The state has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Haley had been lagging behind other GOP candidates most of the spring, but she got critical support from two other women with untraditional backgrounds but lots of political clout: Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, endorsed her. So did Jenny Sanford, ex-wife of the Palmetto State's famously philandering governor, Mark Sanford.
Voters who cast their ballots for Haley told our colleague Ron Barnett at The Greenville News that her gender was not a factor -- but the fact that she broke the usual South Carolina political mold was.
"I'm tired of the good old boy system, and I'm ready for something new in South Carolina, period," said Sarah Franks, a 34-year-old middle school teacher after voting in Powdersville, S.C. "And whether it's a woman or a man, it doesn't matter to me." Brian Ledford, 48, owner of a roofing business, agreed. "We need a fresh face," said Ledford. He described Barrett as "just the same old status quo." (Source)