Incumbent: Gov. Mark Sanford (R) is not running
Republican: State Rep. Nikki Haley
Democrat: State Sen. Vincent Sheheen
2008 Presidential Result: Obama 45%; McCain 54%
55+ Population (2009 estimate): 25.9%
Overview: This one is a three-ring circus. Nikki Haley won the GOP primary despite charges of marital infidelity (never proven) and attacks on her Indian heritage and the Sikh faith of her family (she has converted to Christianity). Sarah Palin and the Tea Party are in her corner (but not the chamber of commerce), allowing her to win the primary and a runoff. Now, Democrat Vincent Sheheen struggles to be heard among the chatter about Haley (she made the cover of Newsweek, as the "Face of the New South"). A late entry by former NFL football player Morgan Reeves on the Green Party ticket could scramble this race even more.
50+ Facts: Check the latest economic statistics and details on the state budget deficit.
Fun Fact: For just a little more "fun" in this race; former first lady Jenny Sanford (whom the governor forsook for his Argentine lover) endorsed Haley early on.
'Wild Card' Issue: Race. South Carolina has a long and sordid history of discrimination and innuendo against African American candidates. While Haley is Indian American, there have been some slurs already in the race. State Sen. Jake Knotts called her a "&*^% raghead." He apologized but said he was not going to stop being a "redneck." In a state where in 2000 John McCain was accused of fathering an illegitimate black child (he adopted a girl from Bangladesh), it's not impossible that there are others like Knotts in the state.
Introduction: Governors' Races Hold High Stakes for the Future