Steamy race heats up South Carolina 

State Rep. Nikki Haley, who has the endorsement of both the Tea Party activists and Sarah Palin, appears poised to win the Republican gubernatorial primary in South Carolina despite charges that she had two extramarital affairs.

But she may not win the 50 percent of votes needed to avoid a runoff with Rep. Gresham Barrett, who trails her by 20 points.

According to Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, Haley had 43 percent of the vote, with 23 percent supporting Barrett, 16 percent backing Attorney General Henry McMaster and 12 percent indicating they would vote for Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer. Bauer took a lie-detector test he says shows he was not behind the allegations of infidelity against Haley and challenged her to do the same. Haley has promised to resign if the charges are ever proved true.

Even after the unraveling of South Carolina Republican Gov. Mark Sanford over his extramarital affair, voters in the Palmetto state appear to be unfazed.

According to the poll, only 13 percent of voters believe the accusations that Haley had affairs with a blogger and a lobbyist, while 54 percent said they don't believe them and 33 percent said they aren't sure.

Haley's lead is also backed by poll numbers showing 43 percent of Republican voters are unhappy with the direction of the Republican Party, which doesn't bode well for six-term incumbent Rep. Bob Inglis.

Inglis is trailing Spartanburg County Solicitor Trey Gawdy in the state's 4th District Republican primary, but neither candidate is expected to with the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff.

sferrechio@washingtonexaminer.com

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