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Nikki Haley forced into runoff in South Carolina primary

Washington, June 9, 2010

Overcoming accusations of marital infidelity, Indian American lawmaker Nikki Haley just missed the 50-percent threshold in a four-way primary race for the Republican nomination for South Carolina governor's job.

Forced into a runoff Tuesday, she will now compete with Republican Representative Gresham Barrett on June 22 for the chance to face Democrat Vincent Sheheen in November. If she wins then, she would become the state's first female chief executive and second Indian American governor of a US state after Republican Bobby Jindal, who holds the top job in Louisiana.

Haley secured 49 percent of the vote with 95 percent of precincts reporting. Barrett, who represents South Carolina's 3rd Congressional District, won 22 percent of the vote in a race that was peppered with scandal.

Republican opponent Lt. Gov Andre Bauer had 17 percent of the vote while Attorney General Henry McMaster received 12 percent.

"We had the kitchen sink thrown at us," Haley said in an interview with the New York Times Tuesday. "We are a state of great people. We are a state of dirty politics," she said portraying the unsubstantiated charges of extramarital affairs as retaliation for taking on special interests.

Haley had been polling at the back of the pack until she picked up an endorsement by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin last month. But she was forced to face accusations of not one, but two, trysts with men heavily involved in state Republican politics.

First, blogger and former Haley communications consultant Will Folks claimed he had a relationship with the 38-year-old mother of two. Then, consultant Larry Marchant, who was working for Bauer until last week, claimed he had a one-night stand with Haley.

Neither offered evidence of an affair. Bauer had challenged Haley, who denies all the allegations, to take a lie detector test. When she did not, Bauer took the test himself. He released results on Monday that he said shows he wasn't behind Marchant's claims.

Current South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who cannot run for re-election because of term limits, admitted last year to having an extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina. The scandal led to his divorce, but he kept his job.



Nikki Haley

June 23, 2004 ,Nikki Randhawa Haley won the runoff election for South Carolina State Assembly from the 87th District. She got 54.69 per cent votes while Koon got 45.31 per cent