The TBT two weeks ago was about former South Carolina Governor and Congressman Mark Sanford, whose political career was a roller coaster of (often humorous) controversy. While going through the deep-but-scant archives from the TPP 1.0 era (circa 2009-2010), I came across an old TPP “Two-Minute Update” about Sanford’s successor in the governor’s office: Nikki Haley.
The post, which dates to 17 June 2009, was about the then-unknown Haley, at the time a State Representative from Bamberg, South Carolina. I remember reading about Haley and being impressed immediately. I assumed she was a long-shot—remember, this was before Trump and only shortly after Obama, so political upsets by unlikely outsiders were still considered rare—but I had an inkling that she could win it all. As is rarely the case when calling elections, I was right.
As I’ve noted many times in these TBT pieces, it’s fascinating looking back to just ten years ago and noting how much the political and cultural landscape has changed. Nikki Haley would go on to win the South Carolina gubernatorial election in 2010 after a tough primary, in which she suffered a number of malicious, mendacious attacks (one blogger even claimed to have had an “inappropriate physical relationship” with her).
I remember even lifelong Republicans voting for Haley’s Democratic opponent, Vincent Sheheen, in a fairly close election. I can’t fully remember what the concern was, although the sense I got was that she was perceived as too much of a firebrand.
You have to recall: these were the early days of the Obama Administration, when people still believed in the possibility of political compromise with the Left. Ideological conservatives like Sanford and Haley were seen as a bit “tacky” (the same way Trump is by Establishment Republicans now), and I suspect that VP candidate Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Haley probably made her gauche-by-association. Also, Sheheen cast himself (as a statewide Dem in SC must) as a congenial moderate.
Long-story short: Haley destroyed Sheheen in a 2014 rematch, and then famously was appointed the United States’ United Nations Ambassador when President Trump took office in 2019. That elevated Lieutenant Governor Henry McMaster—the first public official in South Carolina to endorse Trump during the campaign—to the governor’s office.
Haley had been opposed to Trump, favoring Florida Senator and robot Marco Rubio in the SC primaries in 2016, but she served as one of our gutsiest UN Ambassadors since Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
After Trump, I’m hoping that Haley throws her hat into the ring for the Republican presidential nominations in 2024. Isn’t it time we had a woman president?
So, here is 2009’s “Two-Minute Update: A New Hope,” which is shorter by far than this preamble:
I was pleasantly surprised to read about a fresh new face in South Carolina politics, gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley, a State Representative from Bamberg. The daughter of immigrants, Haley appears to be the philosophical heiress-apparent to Governor Mark Sanford’s brand of fiscal conservatism. While it’s still pretty early in the game–the next gubernatorial election isn’t until 2 November 2010–Haley looks to be a promising candidate for supporters of Sanford’s commitment to limited government and political responsibility.
Again, it’s too early for The Portly Politico to give its support to any one candidate, but I will certainly have my eye on Haley’s candidacy over the next seventeen months. Hopefully she will be spared the ire that is so often heaped upon conservative female politicians by the liberal news media (see also: Sarah Palin).