After weathering two frantic weeks of claims of infidelity, polygraph stunts, and outright racism, South Carolina Republican Nikki Haley won big in the GOP gubernatorial primary Tuesday — though not quite big enough to avoid a runoff in two weeks with Rep. Gresham Barrett.
Haley got 48.8 percent to Barrett’s 21.8 percent; she needed to top 50 percent to avoid a runoff June 22.
After such a strong showing, the claims of affairs with Haley by blogger Will Folks and lobbyist Larry Marchant would appear to be irrelevant going forward — barring some major new revelation. Some observers are even arguing that the allegations pumped up support and turnout for Haley. (It’s worth noting that Folks is still hinting that he may have some heretofore unreleased evidence of an affair.)
In a much-quoted statement Tuesday night, the head of the Republican Governors Association framed the results of the runoff as a foregone conclusion, with Barrett nowhere in the picture: “The voters of South Carolina made a clear choice in Nikki Haley, notwithstanding the possibility of a runoff.”
The Barrett camp tells Ben Smith that he is “totally” in the race for the next two weeks.
The winner of the runoff will face Democratic nominee state Sen. Vincent Sheheen.