Columbia (US): With support from conservative
voters, an Indian-American woman and a black man entered on Friday
primary runoffs for separate `firsts` in South Carolina
Indian-origin Nikki Haley could move closer to becoming
South Carolina`s first woman governor while Tim Scott hoped to
become the state`s first black Republican congressman in more
than a century. Both are state representatives.
In Utah, another closely watched runoff features split
conservative backing for the two Republicans vying to succeed
three-term US Sen Bob Bennett. Bennet was ousted at the
Republican state convention in a success for tea party
supporters,but settling on his successor has proved harder.
So-called tea party voters are expected to be out in
force in both states. These community activists with
conservative and libertarian views believe government has
grown too large, taking too much away in taxes and
undercutting individual liberties.
In South Carolina, Haley faced US Rep Gresham Barrett.
Scott was going up against Paul Thurmond, the son of the late
US Sen and former segregationist Strom Thurmond.
Haley, a married mother of two, spent the weeks before
the June 8 primary denying allegations by a blogger and a
lobbyist that they`d had physical relationships with her.
Shortly after those accusations, Haley also had to face being
called a "raghead", a derogatory term for people of Middle
Eastern or Indian descent, by one opponent`s backer.
Instead of scuttling her bid, voters rejected the nasty
campaigning and nearly handed her the nomination outright with
49 per cent of the vote. In a four-way primary, Barrett was a
distant second at 22 per cent.
Meanwhile, Scott won 31 per cent of the primary vote in a
nine-way primary with Thurmond a distant second. That race
could provide a measure of both racial progress in the South
and the Republicans` ability to diversify.
Six-term Rep Bob Inglis is struggling to hold onto his
House seat in a Republican runoff against prosecutor Trey
Contests like those are expected to drive turnout in the
state`s Republican primary.
Illustrating how fractured the tea party movement is in
Utah, one of the founders of the state`s tea party movement,
David Kirkham, endorsed front-runner Tim Bridgewater
yesterday. But attorney Mike Lee, 38, had already picked up
the support of the California-based Tea Party Express, which
is weighing in on primary races nationwide.
A lot is at stake. Whoever wins Tuesday`s Republican
nomination should cruise to victory in November in heavily
Republican Utah. A Democrat hasn`t won a US Senate race here