May 14th, 2009
04:39 PM ET
6 years ago

Top Sanford ally enters race for South Carolina governor

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has a protege of sorts in the race to succeed him.
South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has a protege of sorts in the race to succeed him.

(CNN) – One of Mark Sanford's top political allies is entering the race to succeed him as South Carolina governor.

Rep. Nikki Haley, a 37-year-old third-term state representative from Lexington, announced her bid on Thursday and immediately signaled that she will assume the Sanford mantle of fiscal conservatism.

"For more than five years I've sat in the statehouse and watched - sometimes in disbelief - as our state government has spent with abandon and in the process wasted taxpayer dollar after taxpayer dollar," Haley said in a statement.

In the state house, she has been a loyal backer of Sanford's small-government initiatives, proposals which have often irked other Republican lawmakers. Haley also plans to hire Sanford's Washington-based political consultant, Jon Lerner, to run her campaign.

Haley became the first Indian-American Republican state legislator in the country in 2004 after winning a nasty primary runoff that featured an anonymous mail attack calling attention to her non-white heritage.

She would become South Carolina's first female governor - if she can survive a crowded Republican primary already loaded with South Carolina GOP heavyweights who are backed by some of the state's best political strategists.

Although Haley is regarded as a rising star among South Carolina Republicans, several GOP operatives in the state not affiliated with rival campaigns told CNN they were surprised she is choosing to jump into a five-way primary now rather than wait for a clearer opportunity at a later date.

Other candidates in the race for the 2010 Republican gubernatorial nomination include South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, South Carolina Rep. Gresham Barrett, South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, state Sen. Larry Grooms and Furman University professor Brent Nelson.

UPDATE: Sanford released a statement Thursday praising Haley.

"Nikki Haley is a true conservative and one of our state's leading voices for fiscal responsibility and government reform," Sanford said. "It's too early to endorse anyone, but I would say Nikki Haley would make a terrific and inspiring choice as governor, and she's a great addition to the field of candidates."


Filed under: Mark Sanford • Nikki Haley • South Carolina
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. Doc6

    The comments on this blog are unbelievable! How many of these idiots know WHO she is? Representative Haley will make an outstanding Governor, one who cares about South Carolina, its education and its people. Furthermore, she understands that you do not spend your way into debt and expect prosperity. Anyone taken a look at California lately? They think they are the trend-setters. They're setting the trend alright, right into bankruptcy and the U.S. is following in the same footsteps. She understands that this kind of math does not work. Good luck everyone else, I'll take Nikki Haley as my Governor all day long!

    May 14, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  2. Love Carolina

    Perhaps some of you haven't been to SC lately...FYI, some of us have indoor plumbing and the Lt. Governor is sponsoring a program that will have us all wearing shoes.

    We'd love to have you come visit...we might be a tad smarter and smidge more tolerant than you think. International investors seem to get along with us real well...and we like them too.

    Oh, and about this election...we just love us some good ole intellectual discourse (from all sides).

    Come on down for a visit real soon. God bless.

    May 14, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  3. Wolves 4 Palin Charlotte, NC

    The broken down schools, unemployed, fired teachers, and neglected students can't wait for another of these pale riders. I am sure the "upper crust" of S.C. is orgasmic over this.

    May 14, 2009 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  4. Veronica

    "For more than five years I've sat in the statehouse and watched — sometimes in disbelief — as our state government has spent with abandon and in the process wasted taxpayer dollar after taxpayer dollar," Haley said in a statement.

    --

    Well, her smaller government ally, Gov. Sanford, didn't have to sign all those spending bills, either.

    So, is she looking to keep SC the welfare that it is? Seems that way from where I sit.

    May 14, 2009 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  5. Neil

    Gracious! Just look at all those Republicans lining up for the Party. Better call Rush. How else is a true Republican to make sense out of all these folks.

    May 14, 2009 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  6. skyhawkdriver

    The democrats continue to lose face..they belittle the fiscal conservtives of state governments while their hero in the white house..200,000 chrysler workers are going to lose their jobs after dealerships close..who own chrysler??..gee isn't it obama..GM is getting ready to close even more dealerships when obama becomes chairman of the board..change we can believe in???..does anyone know who has hired the most people since the inaugriation??..that's right..the federal government has hired 75,000 people..you can critisize the states all you want but they have a budget to live with..apparently the federal government does not..

    May 15, 2009 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  7. skyhawkdriver

    The democrats continue to lose face..they belittle the fiscal conservtives of state governments while their hero in the white house continues to hoodwink everyone..200,000 chrysler workers are going to lose their jobs after dealerships close..who own chrysler??..gee isn't it obama..GM is getting ready to close even more dealerships when obama becomes chairman of the board..change we can believe in???..does anyone know who has hired the most people since the inaugriation??..that's right..the federal government has hired 75,000 people..you can critisize the states all you want but they have a budget to live with..apparently the federal government does not..

    May 15, 2009 05:48 am at 5:48 am |
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