State Rep. Nikki Haley has won the Republican nomination for governor of South Carolina in tonight’s Republican primary runoff, the Associated Press projects — capping one of the most bizarre primaries of the cycle so far.
With 36% of precincts reporting, Haley leads Congressman Gresham Barrett by 62%-38%. Haley will now face Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, who won his primary outright on June 8, in the race to succeed term-limited and scandal-plagued Republican Gov. Mark Sanford in this red state.
The outcome of tonight’s runoff was never much in doubt. In the first-round primary two weeks ago, Haley very nearly clinched the nomination outright with 49% of the vote in a four-way race, just shy of the 50% needed to avoid a runoff, with Barrett in a distant second at 22%.
What makes this very interesting, of course, is the sheer number of sleazy attacks that Haley faced throughout the race — ranging from allegations of infidelity to outright racist attacks on her Indian Sikh background, and on the sincerity of her conversion to Christianity as an adult. But in the end, the Republican electorate rallied behind Haley, despite or perhaps even because of the attacks that were lobbed her way.