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« Three Races To Watch Today | Blog Home Page | NC: Marshall Wins Runoff »

SC: Haley Wins Runoff

By Kyle Trygstad

Nikki Haley easily won the Republican gubernatorial nomination tonight. She led with 63 percent of the vote when the Associated Press called the race, with less than four-in-10 precincts reporting. The state representative bested U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, who had 37 percent when the race was called.

Two weeks ago Haley nearly won the nomination outright, but finished a half-percentage point shy of the 50 percent needed. Barrett finished second in the June 8 primary with 22 percent, followed by Attorney General Henry McMaster with 17 percent and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer with 12 percent.

To win the nomination, Haley had to overcome smear campaigns, a resume with less experience and, as an Indian-American woman, the state's history. The endorsement by Sarah Palin in the primary escalated Haley's profile an instantly gave her a boost in the polls.

Given the state's Republican leanings, Haley steps into the general election as the favorite against Democrat Vincent Sheheen. Should she win, Haley will become the state's first female governor.

RCP currently rates this race Likely Republican.

In the 1st District, state Rep. Tim Scott won the Republican runoff and appears set to become the first African American Republican in the House since Oklahoma's J.C. Watts left Congress in 2002. Scott defeated Paul Thurmond, son of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, by an overwhelming 73 percent to 27 percent margin with 80 percent of the counties reporting.

Meanwhile, 4th District Rep. Bob Inglis became the fifth incumbent member of Congress to be defeated in 2010. Inglis trailed Spartanburg County prosecutor Trey Gowdy by a 76 percent to 24 percent margin with half of the counties reporting. Inglis follows Utah Sen. Bob Bennett, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, West Virginia Rep. Alan Mollohan and Alabama Rep. Parker Griffith.