Haley, Scott win GOP primaries in South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. — In a clear sign of the South's racial progress, Republicans overwhelmingly chose Nikki Haley, an Indian-American woman, to run for governor in South Carolina and easily nominated Tim Scott, in line to become the former Confederate state's first black GOP congressman in more than a century.

Six-term Republican Rep. Bob Inglis fell to prosecutor Trey Gowdy, making him the fifth House or Senate incumbent to stumble this year.

In North Carolina, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall beat former Army prosecutor Cal Cunningham and will challenge GOP Sen. Richard Burr in the fall.

In Mississippi, voters chose Republican Bill Marcy to face Rep. Bennie Thompson.

"South Carolina just showed the rest of the country what we're made of," said Haley, 38, a state legislator with the backing of tea party activists and Sarah Palin, after her victory. "It's a new day in our state."

With 98 percent of the precincts reporting in the runoff, Haley had 65 percent of the vote to 35 percent for four-term Rep. Gresham Barrett. In the fall, she faces Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen. If elected, she will be South Casolina's first female governor. Disgraced GOP Gov. Mark Sanford is leaving the post because of term limits.

Scott, 44, also a state lawmaker, beat Paul Thurmond, the son of the late U.S. senator and former segregationist Strom Thurmond in the runoff. With 100 percent of precincts counted, he had 68 percent of the vote to 32 percent for Thurmond.

If elected to the House, Scott would be the GOP's first black lawmaker since Oklahoma's J.C. Watts retired in 2003. Scott faces Democrat Ben Frasier, who also is black, in November, and is favored to win.

In Utah, lawyer Mike Lee took an early lead over businessman Tim Bridgewater as Republicans looked for a GOP primary successor to vanquished Utah Sen. Bob Bennett. Whoever wins will likely become the next Utah senator. A Democrat hasn't won a Senate race in Utah since 1970.

Haley, Scott win GOP primaries in South Carolina 06/23/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 12:20am]

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