[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/02/art.youtube.cnn.jpg caption="In just a matter of weeks, Nikki Haley has gone from long-shot to frontrunner in the South Carolina governor's race."]Charleston, South Carolina (CNN) - It's easy to forget that for a while there, the South Carolina governor's race was a pretty tame affair.
The four-way Republican primary fight was, for the better part of a year, focused on issues like health care, job creation and federal spending. A year after Gov. Mark Sanford committed political seppuku on national television by admitting to an affair with an Argentinian woman, the GOP candidates appeared eager to get beyond salacious headlines.
The three Democrats vying for their party's nomination were getting less attention as usual, but still hoping that Sanford's tarnished reputation would give them an opening in November.
But in the race's final month, Palmetto State Republicans managed to give new definition to that famous remark of James Petigru, a long-deceased state legislator: "South Carolina is too small to be a republic," he said, "and too large to be an insane asylum."
Updated: 10:21 a.m.