On the heels of this post and very lengthy discussion about why there are far fewer conservative or Republican women in elected office than there are liberal or Democratic women comes yesterday’s announcement by South Carolina State Representative Nikki Haley – a 37 year old third-term Republican from Lexington County – that she is entering SC’s gubernatorial primary race (here is her campaign website).
Haley, an accountant and mother of two, said she wants to make government more open and give residents a reason to feel more positive about it.
“I know what good government can look like,” Haley said. “I’m running for governor so the people of the state will know what it feels like.”
Haley is in her third term in the S.C. House, having unseated long-serving veteran Larry Koon in 2004. Haley has been a contrarian voice in the House, often standing against the GOP majority. She frequently has supported Sanford’s positions, but has also introduced her own issues.
The article strongly suggests that Haley could be someone current Governor, Mark Sanford, who is term-limited, might support:
The Republican governor has said he plans to get involved in his successor’s election and has $1.7 million remaining in his campaign fund, which could be used on issue ads.
“It’s too early to endorse anyone,” Sanford said Thursday. “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.”
However, the ghost of Lee Atwater has been resurrected by SC commentators already:
To become governor, Haley will have to overcome questions about her Indian heritage and whether S.C. voters will accept a woman chief executive.
During her first State House run, anonymous ads in Lexington County questioned Haley’s faith. Haley was raised a Sikh but is now a Methodist.
“It will be a factor because this is South Carolina, the land of the lingering fog of Lee Atwater,” agreed [Winthrop University political scientist Scott] Huffmon, referring to the late S.C. political consultant who raised issues of race and religion in campaigns.
And, directly on point about the discussion in my previous post that sought to elicit ideas as to why there’s a dearth of female GOP politicians:
Women also have not fared well in S.C. politics. The percentage of women in the S.C. Legislature is among the lowest in the nation.
But recent Republican politics, observers say, prove those issues may not be as important as they once were.
State Rep. Joan Brady, R-Richland, said GOP women sometimes lack the confidence to run and have more trouble raising money. She also said she has met women who say they will not vote for another woman. But Brady said Palin proved women will rally around the right candidate, one with a strong voice on women’s and family issues.
“They do bring something different” to a campaign, Brady said of female candidates.
If CStanley is reading, I hope we’ll get some commentary on what, if anything, Haley’s announcement means and how it might unfold.
My opinion? It’s great – the only thing that would be better is if she’d run for the SC state senate, since it currently does not have even one woman period. Oh – and if there’s a good female SC Democratic woman (aw, I had to add that). Would lurv to see two women gubernatorial candidates in South Carolina – now that would be change.