COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Gov. Nikki Haley has easily won re-election in a hotly contested gubernatorial rematch with Camden state Sen. Vincent Sheheen.
The projection from the AP came just one minute after the polls closed statewide. While only 60,000+ votes separated Sheheen and Haley in 2010, the difference was stark this time with Haley trouncing Sheheen by 170,000+ votes and 56 percent of the vote with 99 percent of precincts reporting.
The 42-year-old daughter of Indian immigrants needed a convincing victory to further boost her image nationally. South Carolina's first minority and first female governor already is a familiar figure on the national stage.
Roughly half of the $8 million raised by her campaign came from out-of-state donors.
In her first speech since her landslide re-election, Haley thanked her family and state voters who she says "put their trust" in her four years ago.
Haley used her jobs and economic record as her platform. While she touted her record throughout the campaign, she hasn't shed much light on what to expect for the next four years, like her plans for roads, which she said she wouldn't reveal until after the election. She did, however, reveal what she plans to push for next year.
"We've talked about ethics. We've talked about cleaning up Columbia. This is the year," Haley said.
Haley also focused on her work in reforming the state's education system.
"We're going to make sure that we continue our focus on those children in South Carolina regardless of what rural county they're from, regardless of what corner they were raised to make sure every child can build a plane or a car or a tire or whatever they want to because this is South Carolina and this is where we're going to continue to take care of our children and educate them."
As for Haley's opponent, Sheheen, he graciously conceded the race just after 10:15 p.m.
"I have carried the torch of change for a while now and I am proud to hand it off. And let me tell you this: change is hard in South Carolina, you know that. But that torch will never go out. That torch of change will never be extinguished," Sheheen said.
Haley's victory secures another four years of Republican rule in South Carolina with the GOP continuing to dominate the House of Representatives and the state Senate.