South Carolina gubernatorial election, 2010

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In the South Carolina gubernatorial election of 2010, held on November 2, 2010, Republican Nikki Haley defeated Democrat Vince Sheheen; both Haley and Sheheen were members of the state legislature, Haley in the House and Sheheen in the Senate. Republican Mark Sanford, the incumbent Governor, was term-limited.

In the June 2, 2010 primary elections, Haley was an underdog to Congressman J. Gresham Barrett, Attorney General Henry McMaster, and André Bauer, Governor Sanford's Lieutenant Governor. However, she placed first with 48.9%. Failing to take a majority, Haley went into a runoff with the other top finished, Congressman Barrett. In the June 22nd, runoff, she won with two-thirds of the vote.

Among Democrats, Vince Sheheen won in a single round over state Senator Robert Ford and Superintendent of Education Jim Rex.

November 2, 2010 general election results

As of November 15, 2010, 100% of precincts had reported and results were official.[1]

South Carolina Governor, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngNikki Haley 51.4% 690,525
     Democratic Vincent A. Sheheen 46.9% 630,534
     Green Morgan Bruce Reeves 0.9% 12,483
     UNC Morgan Bruce Reeves 0.6% 7,631
     Write-In Various 0.2% 3,025
Total Votes 1,344,198
Election Results via South Carolina Election Commission

Inauguration and transition

Inaugural date

Governor-elect Nikki Haley was inaugurated on January 12, 2011.

Transition team

Governor-elect Haley's transtion site was at Haley Transition.

The transition was also available at:

Governor-elect Nikki Haley
Edgar A. Brown Building
1205 Pendleton Street, #106
Columbia, SC 29201

The transition was run by a 14 member Executive Committee, co-chaired by Ambassador David Wilkins and entrepeneur Chad Walldorf.[2]

Fiscal Crisis Task Force

On November 15, 2010, Haley announced a "Fiscal Crisis Task Force."[3] Members included:

  • Chairman George Schroeder, Director of the South Carolina General Assembly’s Legislative Audit Council for 33 years
  • Congressman Henry Brown
  • Ashley Landess, President of the South Carolina Policy Council

The Governor-elect gave her first post-election interview to The Post & Courier, where she emphasized the need to slash the state's budget and discussed the specifics of what will be trimmed.[4]

South Carolina Budget Crisis website

The task force's launch coinicided with outgoing Governor Mark Sanford's order of a freeze on all raises and promotions in cabinet agencies. Governor-elect Haley had requested all other state agencies follow the same protocol voluntarily and launched ahead of her inauguration. In addition to highlighting the state's budget shortfall, citizens were encouraged to report instances of fraud, waste, and abuse.

June 8, 2010 Primary

Both the Democratic and Republican Parties held their primaries on the same day. After recounts in the counties of Charleston and Pickens, the South Carolina State Election Commission certified the results.[5]

Vince Sheheen was declared the Democratic nominee for governor while Gresham Barrett and Nikki Haley faced one another in a runoff for the Republican nod. Under South Carolina law, primaries in which no single candidate's vote share exceeds 50 percent require a runoff.

2010 Race for Governor - Democrat Primary[6]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Vincent Sheheen (D) 59.0%
Jim Rex (D) 23.0%[7]
Robert Ford (D) 18.0%
Total votes 188,576
2010 Race for Governor - Republican Primary[8]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Nikki R. Haley (R) 48.9%[9]
Gresham Barrett (R) 21.8%
Henry McMaster (R) 16.9%
Andre Bauer (R) 12.5%
Total votes 422,251

June 22, 2010 GOP runoff

2010 Race for Governor - Republican Runoff[10]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Nikki R. Haley (R) 65.0%
Gresham Barrett (R) 35.0%
Total votes 358,740

Race ratings

See also: Gubernatorial elections 2010, Race tracking

2010 Race Rankings South Carolina
Race Tracker Race Rating
The Cook Political Report[11] Likely Republican
Congressional Quarterly Politics[12] Leans Republican
Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball[13] Likely Republican
Rasmussen Reports Gubernatorial Scorecard[14] Leans GOP
The Rothenberg Political Report[15] Currently Safe Republican
Overall Call Republican


3. Larry J. Sabato moved race from "Leans Republican" to "Likely Republican" on October 28th.

2. Rasmussen moved race from "Solid GOP" to "Leans Republican" after October 19th polling.

1. Rothenberg moved race from "Republican Favored" to "Currently Safe Republican" in its October 1st ratinsg.


The November Ballot – Who Made It? South Carolina Governor[16]
Nominee Affiliation
Vincent Sheheen Democrat
Nikki Haley Republican
Morgan Bruce Reeves Green
Morgan Bruce Reeves United Citizens
This lists candidates who won their state's primary or convention, or who were unopposed, and who were officially certified for the November ballot by their state's election authority.


  • Dwight Drake, an attorney, withdrew from the race on March 5, 2010, citing difficulty in fundraising.[17]
  • Robert Ford, a state senator representing the 42nd District in Charleston, finished behind Jim Rex and Vince Sheheen in the Democratic Primary.[18]
  • Mullins McLeod
  • Henry Ott may run.[18]
  • Jim Rex, the South Carolina Superintendent of Education, announced his candidacy on September 15.[19] He later lost to Vince Sheheen.
  • Vincent Sheheen, a state senator for the 27th District, covering Chesterfield, Kerhsaw and Lancaster counties, won a three-way primary for the Democratic nomination.[18]


  • J. Gresham Barrett, a four-term Congressman representing South Carolina's Third District, entered the race in March of 2009.[18] He received an endorsement from former Vice-President Dick Cheney, but lost a runoff to Nikki Haley.
  • André Bauer, the current Lieutenant Governor, went on a statewide tour in March 2010 to publicize his candidacy. During the race, he secured the endorsement of former Governor of Arkansas Mick Huckabee, whom Bauer had endorsed as a Presidential candidate in 2008.
  • State House Representative Nikki Haley announced her candidacy in May of 2009.[20] Haley's bid received a boost in November 2009 when South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford backed Haley to replace her husband in 2011.[21] Haley also secured endorsements from Saran Palin (R-AK) and Mitt Romney (R-MA).
  • Henry McMaster, South Carolina's attorney general, announced his intention to run in August of 2009. John McCain (R-AZ), Rudy Giuliani (R-NY), and former South Carolina Governor John Beasely endorsed his candidacy. Placing third in the June 8 primary, he publicly endorsed Nikki Haley the following week.[22]
  • Brent Nelson, chairman of the political science department at Furman University in Greenville, began his campaign in February of 2009.[18] He later left the race and campaigned for the State Superintendent of Education.

Third Party

  • Morgan Reeves, a minister and retired professional football player, has been simultaneously nominated by the 'United Citizens Party' and by the 'South Carolina Green Party.' He was on the November ballot under both parties.
  • Jim Rex will continue his campaign with the nomination of the 'Working Families Party'[23] running as a write-in candidate.


A Rasmussen Reports poll of 500 likely voters taken on December 2, 2009 showed Democrat Jim Rex losely narrowly to either of Republicans J. Gresham Barrett and Henry McMaster. Democrat Vincent Sheheen did not do as well against those Republicans.[24]

The ensuing months did much to justify Republican hopes of retaining the seat. Prior to the GOP runoff, Sheheen was still losing to either potential opponent in hypothetical match-ups. Once Haley became the Republican nominee, she held onto and grew her double-digit advantage over Sheheen. Despite wide-spread disappointment in term-limited Mark Sanford's missteps, Haley's party's affiliation with the outgoing Governor did not hurt her campaign significantly. Sanford's PAC spent some $400,000 on favorable ads and Haley tore ahead in the polls.[25] Even among Independents, Haley led Sheheen by 13 points at the close of August.

General election polls

Haley, in the closing days of the 2010 election, lost half her lead.[26] An Octobe4 19, 2010 poll found her leading Sheheen 47% to 36%. Not only did she lose much of her lead, she was below 50% only days before South Carolinians flocked to the polls. The possibility of electing a governor who would come into off without majority support from her constituents is always problematic, but even with that chance, Haley was still defying any hopes the Democrats had to defeat her.

One area where Haley was not picking up many votes lay among members of South Carolina's General Assembly. An anonymous, unscientific survey conducted by Columbia newspaper The State, among legislators garnered a 30% rate with respondents evenly split among Republicans and Democrats. While those who responded were self-selected and the blind methodology makes it impossible to analyze it very deeply, 80% of those who did complete the survey indicated they will vote for Sheheen, including 10 GOP lawmakers.[27]

2010 Race for South Carolina Governor - Rasmussen Reports[28]
Date Reported Haley (R) Sheheen (D) Other Don't Know
October 19, 2010[29] 47% 38% 4% 11%
September 22, 2010[30] 50% 33% 4% 13%
August 25, 2010[31] 52% 36% 3% 10%
August 9, 2010[32] 48% 35% 6% 12%
July 29, 2010[33] 49% 35% 4% 12%
June 23, 2010[34] 52% 40% 3% 5%
(Sample)[35] n=500 MoE=+/- 4.5% p=0.05

Polls prior to the GOP runoff

2010 Race for South Carolina Governor - Rasmussen Reports[36]
Date Reported Haley (R) Sheheen (D) Other Don't Know
June10, 2010[37] 55% 34% 5% 6%
Barrett (R) Sheheen (D) Other Don't Know
June 10, 2010[38] 48% 36% 10% 6%
(Sample)[39] n=500 MoE=+/- 4.5% p=0.05

Primary election polls

2010 Race for South Carolina Governor: Republican Primary - Rasmussen Reports
Date Reported Barrett (R) Bauer (R) Haley (R) McMaster (R) Other Don't Know
May 10, 2010[40] 17% 12% 30% 19% 3% 18%
(Sample)[41] n=931 MoE=+/- 3.0% p=0.05
March 3, 2010[42] 14% 17% 12% 21% 9% 29%
(Sample)[43] n=924 MoE=+/- 3.0% p=0.05


According to financial disclosures filed with election officials, as of December 31, 2009, Vincent Sheehan had considerably more cash on hand than his four main rivals.

Candidate Cash-on-hand December 31
Vincent Sheheen $749,028
Mullins McLeod $366,805
Dwight Drake $315,948
Robert Ford $41,327
Jim Rex $28,647


Unemployment benefits

Republican nominee Nikki Haley outlined a proposal that would tie eligibility to claim unemployment compensation to passing drug tests.[44] If Haley is elected and if the proposal becomes law, it would effect 236,000 South Carolinians currently claiming unemployment.

Under current law, if drug and or alcohol use contributed to an individual becoming employed, benefits may be withheld or reduced. However, requiring those initially approved for unemployment compensation to pass drug tests in order to continue drawing benefits would be a new development.

Issues in the race

Nikki Haley's work for the Lexington Medical Center Foundation

Images of serious contenders for high office belonging to most affluent class don't seem to be holding up in 2010. Nathan Deal, chasing Georgia's governorship and Dan Maes in the Colorado governor's race both dealt with major personal financial issues in thier races. So, it seems, did Nikki Haley.

According to details, she accepted a position as a fundraiser for Lexington Hospital in August 2008 that paid her substantially more than similar fundraising positions in the state. Two years before she accepted the position, her husband's business was losing money and half the family income went to paying mortgage interest alone.[45] Once Haley accepted the fundraising post, her family's financial picture brightened.

The hospital was candid in admitting the position was created for her and stood behind her credentials for the job as well as her performance once she began. Still, Haley came under fire for the $110,000 salary she pulled down, a paycheck that significantly higher than what fundraisers for nonprofits of the same size earn on average.[46]

Opponents pointed out Haley's lack of fundraising experience before beginning the Lexington job and the high portion of donations that ultimately went to her salary. Still, Haley was polling far enough ahead of Democrat Vince Sheheen that the story couldn't derail her aspirations. Haley left the position in April of 2010 to concentrate on her gubernatorial campaign and thereafter received $10,400 a year as a member of the state House.

The Associated Press reported on Oct. 8, 2010 that it had obtained records sh her deowingparture from Lexington Medical Center Foundation "was anything but smooth."[47] E-mails between Haley and her bosses at Lexington Medical Center showed she did not want to leave or take a hiatus, as had been offered. After negotiationse between attorneys, she left with $35,000 severance and a promise from hospital administrators they would say nothing to embarrass her or question her integrity.[48]

The emails contradictd a June interview with The State in which Haley said she was not asked to leave the job, The Associated Press added.[49]

Allegations of affairs

Will Folks, a South Carolina political blogger who previously worked as a staffer for Mark Sanford and a consultant to Nikki Haley, first alleged that he had an extensive extramarital affair with Haley in May of 2010. In support of his claim he released extensive records of phone calls and emails that he said proved his story. Folks' explanation for going public with his allegations was that political enemies of Haley knew about the alleged affair and were going to release the story. Writing on his on blog, Folks claimed that:

"In recent weeks, however, a group of political operatives has attempted to do just that. In fact, on a very personal level I have become the primary target of a group that will apparently stop at nothing to destroy the one S.C. gubernatorial candidate who, in my opinion, would most consistently advance the ideals I believe in. For those of you unfamiliar with the editorial bent of this website, the candidate I am referring to is S.C. Rep. Nikki Haley...Several years ago, prior to my marriage, I had an inappropriate physical relationship with Nikki."[50]

Despite an insistence that he would not be giving interviews or further discussing the alleged affair, Folks soonreleased his own cell phone and text message records and alleged that compromising photos exist. Haley, through campaign spokesmen, denied the charges from the beginning:

"Another day, another delusional missive from a quite obviously obsessed blogger...Yes, Nikki spoke on the phone with someone who worked for her. She does that frequently."[51]

The initial allegation came barely a week after Haley, at the time a long shot in a crowded field, received the coveted Sarah Palin endorsement and rocketed to the front of the pack. Folks followed up his first blog post with one alleging that "operatives with ties to the campaign” of J. Gresham Barrett, a former U.S. Representative whom Haley eventually bested in a runoff, were responsible for leaking details of the alleged affair and forcing him to go public. Barrett denied any such activity.[52]

Shortly after Will Folks made his allegations, lobbyist Larry Marchant publicly claimed to have had a one-night stand with Haley, a claim Haley's campaign categorically refuted.[53] At the time, Marchant was serving as a campaign consultant to South Carolina's Lt. Governor, Andre Bauer, another one of Nikki Haley's primary opponents.

While other races overtook South Carolina's gubernatorial contest in the national mind since allegations hit the press in the spring and early summer, the issues continued to simmer at the state level. A group of Republican politicos challenged Nikki Haley to explain the allegations surrounding her, including charges of extramarital affairs. Announcing the formation of the group, 'Conservatives for Truth in Politics, former state party vice-chair Cyndi Mosteller put it bluntly: "Nikki wants votes. We want answers."

The answer from the state party and leading Palemtto Republicans? "These questions have been asked and answered time and time again."[54]

Indicating that questions about the candidate at the top of the ballot had begun proliferating through the internal workings of the Republican Party, both members of Conservative for Truth in Politics and senior Republican figures in South Carolina traded barbs at press conferences held on the same day.

Organizers of the former group claimed to represent nearly three dozen unnamed GOP officials while the state party branded the group as, "... a committee of three Republicans with some worn-out titles."

Gubernatorial electoral history

1998 Gubernatorial Results[55]
Candidates Percentage
James H. Hodges (D) 53.2%
David Beasley (R) 45.2%
Timothy Moltrie (L) 1.4%
Total votes 1,069,052
2002 Gubernatorial Results[56]
Candidates Percentage
Mark Sanford (R) 52.8%
Jim Hodge (D) 47.1%
Total votes 1,098,747
2006 Gubernatorial Results[57]
Candidates Percentage
Mark Sanford (R)' 55.1%
Tommy Moore (D) 44.8%
Total votes 1,090,944

Presidential electoral history

2000 Presidential Results
Candidates Percentage
George W. Bush (R) 56.83%
Al Gore (D) 40.91%
2004 Presidential Results
Candidates Percentage
George W. Bush (R) 57.98%
John Kerry (D) 40.90%
2008 Presidential Results[58]
Candidates Percentage
John McCain (R) 53.87%
Barack Obama (D) 44.90%

1992 Presidential Results
Candidates Percentage
George H.W. Bush (R) 48.02%
Bill Clinton (D) 39.88%
1996 Presidential Results
Candidates Percentage
Bob Dole (R) 49.89%
Bill Clinton (D) 43.85%

See also

External links

Candidate Pages


  1. South Carolina State Election Commission, "Statewide Results," updated November 15, 2010 at 7:08, accessed November 15, 2010
  2. Haley Transition, "Gov.-elect Haley announces full Executive Committee of the Gubernatorial Transition," November 12, 2010
  3. Haley Transition, "Gov.-elect Nikki Haley announces Fiscal Crisis Task Force," November 15, 2010
  4. The Post & Courier, "Q&A with Governor-elect Nikki Haley," November 17, 2010
  5., 2010 Primary Results
  6. South Carolina State Election Commission - 2010 Republican and Democratic Primary
  7. Jim Rex was nominated by the 'Working Family Party prior to losing the Democratic Primary. While he will continue to campaign, he will not appear on printed ballots as South Carolina prohibits candidates who have lost any party's nomination from being listed.
  8. South Carolina State Election Commission - 2010 Republican and Democratic Primary
  9. Even though Nikki Haley received the most votes, she failed to receive over fifty percent of those votes required by South Carolina state law. A runoff election between the top two vote recipients, therefore, was required to decide who went on to the general election.
  10. South Carolina State Election Commission - 2010 Republican and Democratic Primary
  11. The Cook Political, “Governors: Race Ratings”
  12. CQ Politics, “2010 Race Ratings: Governors”
  13. Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball', “2010 Governor Ratings”
  14. Rasmussen Reports', “Election 2010: Scorecard Ratings”
  15. Rothenberg Political Report, “Governor Ratings”
  16. South Carolina Elections Commission, “Statewide General Election ‐ November 2, 2010: Offices and Candidates”, certified August 16, 2010
  17. Dwight Drake for South Carolina, "Thank You," March 5, 2010
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 Congressional Quarterly Politics, "Barrett Touts $300K Quarter for South Carolina Gov Bid," April 9, 2009
  19. "Exclusive: Rex moves toward run for governor" (Columbia The State article-August 6, 2009)
  20. Herald Online, "Rep. Haley announces bid to become state's first female governor," May 14, 2009
  21. The Sun News Jenny Sanford backs Haley to succeed her husband, November 12, 2009
  22. News Radio Word, "McMaster to endorse Haley in SC gov race" 15 June, 2010
  23., "Rex counting on fusion voters in governor's race," May 2, 2010
  24. 2010 Rasmussen Reports, "Democrat Rex Runs Close Against Top GOP Hopefuls," December 2, 2009 (dead link)
  25. The Daily Caller, "Haley avoids backlash against Sanford, surges in latest poll," August 30, 2010
  26. McClatchy DC, "Haley's lead narrows in South Carolina governor's race," October 22, 2010
  27. The State, "Survey: Sheheen has support in Legislature," October 28, 2010
  28. Carolina Rasmussen Reports, “State Profiles: South Carolina”, accessed August 30, 2010 (dead link)
  29. Rasmussen Reports, “South Carolina Governor: Haley (R) Posts Smaller Lead Over Sheheen (D)”, October 21, 2010
  30. Rasmussen Reports, “Election 2010: Haley (R) Still Runs Strong in South Carolina Governor’s Race”, September 24, 2010
  31. Rasmussen Reports, “Election 2010: South Carolina Governor: Haley (R) 52%, Sheheen (D) 36%”, August 27, 2010
  32. Carolina_governor_Haley_r_48_Sheheen_d_35 Rasmussen Reports, “South Carolina Governor: Haley (R) 48%, Sheheen (D) 35%”, August 12, 2010 (dead link)
  33. Rasmussen Reports, “South Carolina Governor: Haley (R) 49%, Sheheen (D) 35%”, August 2, 2010
  34. Rasmussen Reports, “South Carolina Governor: Haley (R) 52%, Sheheen (D) 40%”, June 28, 2010
  35. [More complete methodology and sampling tabs are available at]
  36. Carolina Rasmussen Reports, “State Profiles: South Carolina”, accessed August 30, 2010 (dead link)
  37. Rasmussen Reports, “South Carolina Governor: Haley (R) 55% Sheheen (D) 34% ”, June 14, 2010
  38. Rasmussen Reports, “South Carolina Governor: Haley (R) 55% Sheheen (D) 34% ”, June 14, 2010
  39. [More complete methodology and sampling tabs are available at]
  40. Rasmussen Reports, “South Carolina GOP Primary for Governor: Haley Jumps Ahead”, May 17, 2010
  41. [More complete methodology and sampling tabs are available at]
  42. Rasmussen Reports, “SC's GOP Governor's Race Is A Close One”, March 8, 2010
  43. [More complete methodology and sampling tabs are available at]
  44. McClathy DC, "Nikki Haley wants drug tests tied to unemployment benefit," October 6, 2010
  45. McClatchy DC, "S.C. hospital created fundraising job for Nikki Haley," September 27, 2010
  46. The State, "How Haley achieved financial health: Hospital created fundraising job for her," September 26, 2010
  47. Emails: Rockey Departure for Haley, The State, Oct. 8, 2010 (dead link)
  48. Emails: Rockey Departure for Haley, The State, Oct. 8, 2010 (dead link)
  49. Emails: Rockey Departure for Haley, The State, Oct. 8, 2010 (dead link)
  50., "Will Folks: Letting The Chips Fall," May 24, 2010
  51. South Carolina Herald, "Blogger's claims of affair take S.C. politics to new level," June 1, 2010
  52. New York Times, "Scandal Rattles Politics in South Carolina, Again," May 25, 2010
  53. Huffington Post, "Nikki Haley Affair: Larry Marchant Dishes Details Of Alleged One Night Stand (VIDEO)," June 3, 2010
  54. McClatchy DC, "GOP group presses Nikki Haley for details on jobs, late taxes, alleged affairs," October 1, 2010
  58. Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections', accessed July 28, 2010