Indian-American Nikki Haley has bagged the Republican nomination for South Carolina’s gubernatorial elections to be held in November, 2010.The victory, U.S. media said, elevated her to the national stage and almost a certain win later in 2010.
If elected in the November, 2010 elections, Ms. Haley would be the first Indian-American female Governor in the U.S. and also the first ever female Governor of South Carolina.
The 38-year-old overcame a series of allegations of extra-marital affairs, which she had denied, and an ethnic slur targeting her Sikh heritage to win the nomination. Ms. Haley, a married mother of two, spent the weeks before the June 8, 2010 primary denying allegations by a blogger and a lobbyist that they’d had physical relationships with her.
Shortly after those accusations, Ms. Haley also had to face being called a “raghead” — a derogatory term for people of West Asian or Indian descent — by a backer of one opponent.
In the run-off to the primary elections on 23.06.2010, Ms. Haley defeated Congressman Gresham Barrett. The Indian-origin Republican candidate was endorsed by top party leaders including Sarah Palin, the former Alaska Governor, and Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts Governor.
U.S. media reported that Ms. Haley, a converted Christian who was born Nimrata Randhawa, starts as a favourite against Democrat Vincent Sheheen as South Carolina has strongly favoured the Republican Party.
The state has never voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Ms. Haley, who was trailing behind most of her Republican rivals, started gaining ground and eventually won the Republican nominations soon after she was endorsed by Ms. Palin and Mr. Romney, both of whom campaigned in her favour.
Ms. Haley got 65 per cent of the total votes polled, while Mr. Barrett received 35 per cent. The Washington Post said the victory made Ms. Haley not just the front-runner for the office this fall but a likely national GOP star.
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