State Rep. Nikki Haley of Lexington fell just short of winning outright Tuesday’s Republican primary for governor.
Haley, a Tea Party darling, garnered nearly half of all GOP votes. U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett from Westminster claimed second in the four-way GOP contest but trailed Haley badly.
The two, who previously have tussled in televised debates over who is the true conservative, will face off in a June 22 runoff unless Barrett concedes the race before then.
The eventual GOP winner then must begin the long march to November’s general election against the Democratic nominee for governor, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden, who glided easily to victory in his party’s Tuesday primary.
“We knew from the beginning it was us vs. the establishment,” Haley said Tuesday night, addressing a room of supporters in Columbia. “We were settling (in South Carolina) for a Republican House, a Republican Senate, a Republican governor. I won’t stop until we get a conservative House, a conservative Senate, a conservative governor.”