State Representative Nikki Haley won a runoff vote today to become the Republican nominee for governor in South Carolina, defeating U.S. Representative Gresham Barrett.
Haley had 65 percent of the vote with 74 percent of precincts reporting; Barrett had 35 percent, according to the Associated Press.
She will face Democratic state Senator Vincent Sheheen in November’s general election. Haley, an Indian-American, is the favorite in the Republican-leaning state, and with a victory she would become South Carolina’s first woman governor.
In other South Carolina runoffs, Republican Representative Bob Inglis became the fifth U.S. lawmaker to lose re-nomination this year. Inglis, elected to his current seat in 2004, was hurt by his 2008 vote for the $700 billion bank-rescue plan.
Inglis, 50, was defeated by fellow Republican Trey Gowdy, 45. Gowdy, a county prosecutor who ran ahead of Inglis in a June 8 primary, had 73 percent of the vote to 27 percent for Inglis, with 76 percent of precincts reporting, according to AP. The two squared off today for the House nomination because neither broke the 50 percent mark in the earlier contest.
In another race with historic potential for the state, South Carolina Republicans chose Tim Scott, a black state legislator, over the son of a former segregationist presidential candidate as their pick to fill an open U.S. House seat.
Scott, 44, beat Paul Thurmond, 34, in a run-off, the Associated Press said. With 83 percent of precincts reporting, Scott had 69 percent of the vote to 31 percent for Thurmond, according to AP.
Thurmond is the son of the late U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond, who ran for president in 1948 as a segregationist candidate on the States Rights Democratic Party ticket.
Scott’s win puts him in a position to become the first black Republican to serve in Congress in eight years and the first black Republican to represent South Carolina in the House or Senate since the late 1800s.
Haley’s campaign was helped by endorsements from Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination two years ago. Haley, 38, also has support from Tea Party activists who promote limited government.
Barrett, 49, was dogged by his vote in 2008 for the bank-rescue plan, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Haley almost clinched the nomination in the June 8 primary, winning 49 percent of the vote to Barrett’s 22 percent. The runoff was needed because she didn’t cross the 50 percent threshold.
The race to replace Republican Governor Mark Sanford inherited the same sideshow quality that surrounded his own confession of an extramarital affair last year.
Haley, endorsed by Sanford’s ex-wife, Jenny, denied allegations by a blogger and a former aide to one of her opponents that she had extramarital affairs with both.
In North Carolina, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall won a runoff today for the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican U.S. Senator Richard Burr in November.
Marshall, 64, who led all candidates in a May 4 primary, defeated former state Senator Cal Cunningham, 36, who finished second in last month’s vote.