Haley wins in SC runoff

Nikki Haley became the first female gubernatorial candidate nominated by South Carolina Republicans tonight.

South Carolina Republicans made state Rep. Nikki Haley their first female gubernatorial nominee, handing her an easy victory in her primary runoff race against U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett.

Haley just missed out on winning the nomination outright in the June 8 primary, capturing 49 percent of the vote in a four-candidate field. She was short of the 50 percent-plus-one needed to take the nomination.

Once facing long odds for the GOP nomination, Haley rose in the polls thanks in part to endorsements by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

And unsubstantiated allegations by two other Republicans that they had affairs with Haley, who is married with children, most likely helped rather than hurt her campaign. So did a racial slur by a Republican state lawmaker at Haley, who is Indian-American and was raised Sikh, but became a Methodist at age 24.

“The unproven allegations and attacks against Haley actually played right into her message as a new kind of conservative,” said CNN political producer Peter Hamby, who is in South Carolina reporting on the campaign. “In fighting back, she was able to argue that establishment figures in the GOP were playing politics as usual and trying to stop a real reformer from taking charge in Columbia.”

She’s also the favorite to win the South Carolina general election, which would be another first.

Haley will be considered the favorite in the general election against state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee. Haley would become the Palmetto state’s first woman governor if elected in November. (Source: CNN)

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