Haley wins wild S.C. primary 

Republican Nikki Haley overcame accusations that she was involved in two extramarital affairs to win a wild gubernatorial primary in South Carolina.

Haley came in just under the 50 percent she needed in the four-way race to avoid a runoff vote.

Now she'll face Rep. Gresham Barrett, who came in second place, in a contest scheduled for June 22. State Attorney General Henry McMaster, who once led the pack, took third place in the primary, while Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer limped into fourth.

Tea Party-backed Trey Gowdy garnered the most votes in the 4th District Republican primary, leading incumbent Rep. Bob Inglis and three other candidates. Since Gowdy fell short of earning 50 percent of the vote, he'll face second-place Inglis again in two weeks.

Haley was able to shake off political damage from charges made by political operative Will Folks and a fundraiser who worked for Bauer, Larry Marchant, that she had affairs with them. Folks was a former spokesman for Gov. Mark Sanford, whose political career came unraveled after he confessed to an extramarital affair. Sanford and his ex-wife, Jenny, both endorsed Haley.

Haley, who trailed in most of the race until a late surge following Jenny Sanford and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's endorsements, denied both affairs, calling the whole situation "sick politics."

"She didn't have the name recognition or the money, but she gets Sarah Palin's endorsement and she doesn't need a single dime for name recognition after that," said Scott Huffmon, a political science professor at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C.

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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