South Carolina: Haley, Graham re-elected; Scott to finish term

Nikki Haley easily won a second term Tuesday as South Carolina’s governor, again defeating Democrat Vincent Sheheen.

Voters also awarded a third six-year term to Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham. Republican U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, who was appointed by Haley to serve when Jim DeMint resigned in 2012 to head the Heritage Foundation, was elected to finish the term. His win marks the first time South Carolina voters have elected an African-American to the U.S. Senate.

Incomplete returns showed Haley, the daughter of Indian immigrants, winning 57 percent of the vote to 39 percent for Sheheen. She is the fourth governor to win re-election since voters approved a constitutional change in 1980 to allow a second consecutive term.

The margin was higher than her 2010 victory over Sheheen, when she won with 51 percent of the vote.

During their rematch this year, Sheheen criticized Haley over a massive data breach at the S.C. Department of Revenue that compromised financial information for millions of South Carolinians in 2012. After the breach, Haley arranged for a year’s worth of credit monitoring for residents.

Haley, South Carolina’s first female governor, touted her record with bringing jobs to the state, saying 57,000 jobs had been created in 45 of the state’s 46 counties during her tenure. She also touted a state unemployment rate that has fallen from 10.5 percent when she took office to 6.6 percent in September.

In June, Giti, the world’s 10th-largest tire manufacturer, announced that it would open a plant in Chester County, about 60 miles south of Charlotte, creating 1,700 jobs. That same day, Haley announced that two Charlotte firms – LPL Financial and Lash Group – would move across the state line to York County, bringing about 2,200 jobs.

Sheheen questioned Haley’s job numbers, calling them fictitious and unlikely to yield added work for years. Yet, in polls, Haley consistently led Sheheen and raised more money than the longtime Camden legislator. Half of the $8 million she raised for her campaign came from out-of-state donors.

Graham defeated Democratic S.C. Sen. Brad Hutto; former state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, who pleaded guilty in 2008 to a federal drug charge and became a reality TV star; and Libertarian candidate Victor Kocher. Graham and Strom Thurmond are the only people to hold the seat since 1954.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott’s seat will be up for re-election again in 2016.

In South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District, which includes counties bordering Charlotte, Republican incumbent Mick Mulvaney defeated Tom Adams, a Democrat and Fort Mill Town Council member. In early returns, Mulvaney had 62 percent of the vote to 37 percent for Adams. It’s the third term in Congress for Mulvaney, who in 2010 defeated 28-year Democratic incumbent John Spratt.

U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford won another term in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. Sanford, who was South Carolina governor from 2003 until 2010, made national headlines in 2009 when he admitted to spending a six-day absence from the state in Argentina with his mistress, with whom he carried a yearslong extramarital affair.

In York County, Republican Robert Winkler won the District 3 seat on the York County Council. The Associated Press contributed.