In 2010, South Carolina will elect a new Governor to replace the term-limited Mark Sanford. Today there is a new entrant into the race: America's first Indian-American Republican legislator. Nikki Haley - first elected to the South Carolina statehouse in 2004 - is a 37-year old accountant, and a conservative mother of two. She enters the race with the blessing - though not the formal endorsement - of the popular Governor:
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.
Last fall, Haley called on the House to adopt rules requiring on-the-record voting, pushing through the change despite initial opposition from House leaders...
"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."
Some question whether South Carolina is ready for a South Asian female governor. But then again, many thought Bobby Jindal couldn't win in Louisiana, and that Sarah Palin could not win in Alaska. Perhaps there's more appetite for smart, young, energetic conservative reformers than some believe.
That said, Haley has a tough road ahead. She has raised less money than some of the other candidates, and she is much less know than the other Republican candidates -- two of whom have been elected statewide.