A new player challenges Nikki Haley in South Carolina


South Carolina’s Indian American Governor Nikki Haley faces a new challenge in her re-election bid with a former judge named Tom Ervin joining the race as an independent.

Born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa, the 42-year-old daughter of immigrant Sikh parents from Punjab is considered one of the Republican party’s “brightest stars, a dynamo fundraiser and a favourite of national Republicans eager to showcase diversity in their ranks,” according to CNN.

But the entry of Ervin in the race besides her Democratic challenger, state Senator Vincent Sheheen “might have made Haley’s path to victory more complicated” the news channel said noting Ervin’s campaign is threatening to raise at least $6 million.

“We’re going to spend whatever it takes,” Ervin told CNN. “I am going to tell the truth to the people of South Carolina.”

Ervin first filed to run against Haley in the Republican primary in March. But he soon dropped out of the primary and announced his independent bid, saying there wasn’t enough to time to mount a credible Republican campaign before the June 10 primary.

Haley’s campaign was quick to diminish Ervin as a “liberal trial lawyer,” according to CNN.

“We appreciate Mr. Ervin’s desire for public service, but a trial lawyer and former Democratic lawmaker? who wants to raise taxes and embrace Obamacare should probably be running as a Democrat,” Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey was quoted as saying.

Haley defeated Sheheen by just four points when they first squared off in the 2010 race.

Some Democrats are hopeful that Ervin, and his money, will help them open up a two-front war against Haley on the campaign trail, while siphoning Republican-leaning voters away from the incumbent, CNN said.

A libertarian candidate, Charleston businessman Steve French, could do the same, it said.

However, Ervin’s chances of winning the race are slim, CNN said noting he first has to qualify to get on the November ballot by collecting at least 10,000 signatures needed to run as a “petition” candidate.

Meanwhile, Haley’s campaign has raised nearly $6 million for her campaign, a hefty sum in a state where television ad time is relatively affordable, it said.

She has been also aided by a series of commercials paid for by the Republican Governors Association.

Published in The Indian Sun (Indian Australian Magazine)

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