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Blog Home Page --> Governor -- South Carolina

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.

Three Races To Watch Today

By Kyle Trygstad

There are three major statewide races on the docket today, one governor's race and two to decide nominations for the Senate. With the upcoming Fourth of July holiday and Congress pushing to finish up business for the August recess, this is the last big day of elections for the next six weeks. Here's a look at the three biggest races of the day:

Utah - Republican Senate Primary

Businessman Tim Bridgewater nearly came out of the early May state party convention with the GOP nomination but fell 3 points shy of the 60 percent needed to avoid a primary. Since then, he's tried to prove his resume as a true conservative, while also collecting some establishment-type endorsements -- with none bigger than Sen. Bob Bennett, whom he defeated at the convention.

Meanwhile, attorney Mike Lee built up some momentum of his own and has collected endorsements from such conservatives as South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, as well as the Tea Party Express.

The two have furiously fought for the last six weeks to distinguish themselves, as they take similar stances on the top issues and entered the race from outside of elected office. One hot topic the Deseret News calls a "sleeper issue" is that of the importation of nuclear waste for disposal, something Lee supports and Bridgewater wants to ban.

A poll released over the weekend found Bridgewater ahead by 9 points with 43 percent of the vote. However, a quarter of voters remain undecided and the nomination is up for grabs.

Continue reading "Three Races To Watch Today" »

SC Gov Poll: Tight Primary Battles

A new Insider Advantage/Majority Opinion poll taken of the South Carolina governor's race finds close primary contests for both parties, as each hope to succeed Republican Gov. Mark Sanford -- whose extramarital affair became one of the most talked about national stories of the year.

Republicans tested include: SC Atty. Gen. Henry McMaster; Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer (who was endorsed yesterday by Mike Huckabee); State Rep. Nikki Haley (who was endorsed by First Lady Jenny Sanford); U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett; and State Sen. Larry Grooms.

McMaster 22
Bauer 22
Haley 13
Barrett 9
Grooms 6
No opinion 28

Democrats tested include: State Education Superintendent Jim Rex; Dwight Drake, an attorney and former top aide to governors John West and Dick Riley; state senators Vincent Sheheen and Robert Ford; and attorney Mullins McLeod.

Rex 21
Drake 15
Sheheen 8
Ford 6
McLeod 6
No opinion 44

The survey was taken Dec. 16 of 371 Republicans and 306 Democrats.

SC Gov Poll: GOP Favored To Hold Sanford Seat

A new Rasmussen poll in South Carolina (500 LVs, 12/2, MoE +/- 4.5%) shows Republicans generally well-positioned in the race to succeed Gov. Mark Sanford (R). State Education Superintendent Jim Rex is the strongest Democrat, and actually leads Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer in one matchup.

General Election Matchups
Barrett 39 -- Rex 33 -- Und 21
Bauer 35 -- Rex 36 -- Und 16
McMaster 39 -- Rex 32 -- Und 19

Barrett 45 -- Sheheen 23 -- Und 20
Bauer 39 -- Sheheen 29 -- Und 19
McMaster 43 -- Sheheen 26 -- Und 21

Favorable Ratings
Barrett 51 / 20
Bauer 46 / 38
McMaster 50 / 27
Rex 36 / 37
Sheheen 30 / 34

Sanford Calls Latest Call For Resignation "Premature"

Gov. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), appearing now on WVOC-AM radio, said moments ago that the latest call for his resignation is "unfortunate" and "a bit premature."

This morning, South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell, a Republican, said Sanford should step down because it "has become clear is that Governor Sanford's issues will continue to dominate our state as long as he remains in office." The State newspaper has his full statement:

"Whether he should be re-moved from office is a question that will need to be answered from the State Ethics Commission investigation, but our state's future is too important to have the Governor's issues overshadow everything we do for the next fifteen months. For the good of our state, Governor Sanford should step aside."

Sanford told the radio station that he won't read anything into Harrell's motives, but did agree with him to an extent -- that the state ethics process should "work its way through."

"I had a real moral failure. We've talked about. South Carolina has talked on and on about it, and then some more," he said. The question going forward is, he said, what is the best solution for making government work again. "I can't apologize more than I have" for his admitted affair, he said, but in office he has a "compellingly strong record in watching out for the taxpayer."

Continue reading "Sanford Calls Latest Call For Resignation "Premature"" »

Bauer To Call For Sanford's Resignation

A break for a moment from the Kennedy coverage to note this interesting political development in South Carolina. The State reports exclusively this morning that Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer (R) plans to call on Gov. Mark Sanford (R) to resign; he will pledge not to seek a full term in 2010 if he does so.

From The State:

Bauer is the first constitutional officer to join a growing chorus of lawmakers pushing for Sanford to resign, including a majority of Republican state senators.

Today's announcement, according to a source close to Bauer, is intended to send a message to State House leadership that Sanford needs to step down and Bauer won't stand in the way. Some lawmakers have been hesitant to push for Sanford's resignation because it would give Bauer an unfair advantage in the 2010 race, as he would be running for governor as an incumbent.

Bauer plans to send a letter to Sanford today to ask him to resign. The House Republican Caucus will discuss whether to impeach Sanford this weekend at its Myrtle Beach retreat.

Sanford Impeachment Looming?

CNN's Peter Hamby reports this hour that South Carolina legislators may be prepping for impeachment proceedings against Gov. Mark Sanford (R) when they reconvene next year.

Rep. Boyd Brown said ranking members of the House Judiciary Committee told him Wednesday that several Republicans on the committee are prepared to team up with Democrats to begin the impeachment process if Sanford doesn't resign or agree to a full-scale investigation into his travel expenses before the end of the year.

At least one Republican on the Judiciary Committee contacted by CNN Thursday -- Rep. Greg Delleney -- said he would sign on to an impeachment effort.

The Republican chairman of the committee, Rep. Jim Harrison, said he has not yet had the chance to talk to committee members about where they stand on the matter. But he said the impeachment drumbeat could easily get louder.

Sanford may be more "politically dead" than even he thought.

Sanford Ally Suggests Gov May Need To "Move On"

We noted last week that state Rep. Nikki Haley (R), an ally of Gov. Mark Sanford (R) and a candidate to replace him in the 2010 election, used the debate over whether he should resign to attack a potential rival, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer (R). Now, in a sign of just how quickly Sanford's situation is deteriorating, she suggests that his additional revelations may require him to step down for good.

"There are no words to describe the disappointment I feel over the revelations of the past week," Haley says in a statement this afternoon. "The people of South Carolina have heard enough about the governor's personal life. We do not need to hear any more of that. What we do need to hear from the governor is an explanation as to how he can lead our state going forward. He has a responsibility to outline what he wants to accomplish over the next 18 months and how he intends to accomplish it. I remain willing to listen to that case, but if he cannot make it convincingly, then he must move on."

The Woman No Longer Behind the Man

The Hill's Reid Wilson, a former RCP-er, profiles Jenny Sanford -- backseat driver for the political career of her husband, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford:

The first lady has been intimately involved in her husband's political career and has served as his closest adviser, according to sources close to Sanford. She's acted as a fiercely loyal enforcer, sounding board and crisis manager, they said.

So Jenny Sanford's seeming nonchalance about her husband's itinerary over Father's Day weekend and subsequent comments that indicated she cared little about her husband's political future "lent credence to rumors that no one wanted to believe," said one South Carolina Republican operative who asked not to be named.

With calls for his resignation mounting, Sanford may have been fatally wounded by the absence of the person who has served as his most trusted and, by many accounts, most valuable adviser throughout his career, South Carolina political watchers now say.

And now, the first lady has little incentive to make a quick return to her husband's side.

South Carolina Dems Call For Sanford To Resign

South Carolina Democrats have steadily been ratcheting up their criticism of Gov. Mark Sanford (R) since their initial public statement after he announced marital infedility. But now, they're on record calling for him to resign. Party chair Carol Fowler:

"While I believe an investigation should still be done to determine the full extent of Mark Sanford's abuse of power, though [sic] his long stream of confessions he has already revealed enough immoral and reprehensible behavior to justify asking him to step done. State officials seem unable to do anything except worry and talk about Governor Sanford's extramarital affair, which we learn more about every few hours.  Every day that is spent not focused on the issues that matter the most to our state, particularly jobs and education, is another day that our state suffers. Every day that members of the General Assembly spend talking about Sanford's state-funded romance is another day these Republican leaders aren't tackling the rising unemployment numbers or the plight of our public schools.  South Carolina can't afford to be at a standstill for the next 18 months with a governor who ignores his job responsibilities while pursuing personal interests. Any other worker in South Carolina would be fired for not showing up at work with no notice."

Haley Uses Potential Sanford Resignation To Attack Bauer

The candidates for South Carolina governor in 2010 have been walking a fine line this week, to say the least. But state Rep. Nikki Haley (R), who arguably stood to suffer the most by association to Gov. Mark Sanford (R), has just used the discussion over whether the governor should resign to attack a potential rival, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer (R).

Haley has been considered a close ally of Sanford's when it comes to fiscal issues. And she says today that the state couldn't afford a Bauer governorship."While the governor has clearly made a serious and costly error, the focus of what comes next should not be on how it affects Mark Sanford but instead on how it affects the people of our state," she said in a statement just released by her campaign. "I have major concerns about the viability of that movement [toward government reform, fiscal accountability, smaller government] and the direction our government could take under the Lieutenant Governor should Governor Sanford resign."

She said elected officials must act "in the best interests of the state," and cautioned that "South Carolina cannot afford to go back to the good-ole-boy system that so badly serves the taxpayers and undermines our government."

Sanford today held his first Cabinet meeting since returning to the state. After the jump, see the statement his office released afterward.


Continue reading "Haley Uses Potential Sanford Resignation To Attack Bauer" »

Sanford To Reimburse State For Argentina Trip

One of the key questions waiting to be answered in the Sanford saga is who paid for this week's trip to Argentina. It has also been reported that Gov. Mark Sanford's (R-S.C.) traveled to the country last June on the state's dime. His office just put out a statement defending the travel as "entirely professional and appropriate" and to benefit the state, but acknowledged that while there, he did meet with his mistress.

Here's a statement from his office:

"As noted by the Department of Commerce, I attended a trade mission with the Department of Commerce last June. As the agenda notes, the mission was spent meeting with government and private business officials in both Brazil and Argentina. This trip was handled very professionally by the Department of Commerce, and I'm proud of their work there.

"However, while the purpose of this trip was an entirely professional and appropriate business development trip, I made a mistake while I was there in meeting with the woman who I was unfaithful to my wife with. That has raised some very legitimate concerns and questions, and as such I am going to reimburse the state for the full cost of the Argentina leg of this trip," Gov. Sanford said.

McMaster Hopes Experience Makes Sanford "Better Governor"

South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster (R), a potential candidate for governor in 2010, has released a statement alternately criticizing Gov. Mark Sanford (R) and expressing sympathy for him and his family.

"I think we all know that leaving the state without a governor for any period of time is not acceptable. I suspect Governor Sanford now understands that better than anyone else. My hope is that this sad experience will make Mark a better governor and a better public servant during the final months of his administration.

My heart goes out to Mark, Jenny, and the boys. I know this is a difficult time for them. They're in Peggy's and my prayers."

S.C. Dems To "Evaluate Effectiveness" Of Sanford

A statement from the South Carolina Dems chair, Carol Fowler:

"Our thoughts are with the Governor's family at this time. Mark Sanford should be given time to focus on his family right now. There will be other opportunities in the weeks ahead to discuss his effectiveness as our state's governor," said Fowler.

Translation: we play nice today, we call for resignation tomorrow.