Today is a big day for S.C. Republicans, who are choosing nominees for four statewide races and three congressional races. Most eyes will be on the race for governor, as Republicans will choose between U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett and Lexington Rep. Nikki Haley, who is attempting to become the party’s first female and minority nominee.
1 story that will make national headlines
Republican diversity: If Republicans nominate Indian-American Nikki Haley for governor and African-American Tim Scott in the 1st Congressional District, South Carolina will have given the often diversity-challenged GOP two minorities who will likely be favorites in the fall.
2 things you should know
No party switching: Voters who cast ballots two weeks ago can’t switch parties. For example, if you voted in the Democratic primary then you can only vote in the Democratic runoff.
Sunny skies: The weather should not keep anyone away from the polls, as sunny skies are forecast. Polls open at 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
3 key story lines
Big incumbent loss?: U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis could lose his seat in a a tide of anti-incumbent sentiment in the Upstate.
Will the tea party tilt some races?: Candidates with strong tea party support could win the nominations for governor, lieutenant governor and 3rd congressional district.
Haley’s religion: Lexington Rep. Nikki Haley grew up Sikh and converted to Christianity. Will religious conservatives question Haley’s faith?
4 keys to victory
Turnout: Runoff elections typically see a drop off in voter participation from already traditionally light turnout in primary races. Less than 20 percent of registered voters are expected to participate, which generally helps incumbents. But this year it could leave some incumbents vulnerable.
Money race: Candidates in the statewide races have been pushing for donations over the past two weeks to keep buying media. Those with money have been able to close the strongest.
Endorsements: They could matter in some races. For example, Attorney General Henry McMaster’s endorsement of Haley might signal that it’s OK for traditional Republicans to support the libertarian leaning Haley.
Last-minute impressions: Voters, thanks to the Internet, can be opinion leaders. Winning the battle on facebook.com and twitter today is a goal of each campaign.
5 big races
Governor: Republican voters will choose between U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett of Oconee and Rep. Nikki Haley of Lexington. Haley came within whisker of securing the nomination two weeks ago. Can Barrett pull of the upset for the chance to face Kershaw state Sen. Vincent Sheheen in November?
Lieutenant governor: Florence County Councilman Ken Ard and Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor, a pair of Republicans, have equal money and nearly equal support. This race will be won in the Lowcountry, which was owned two weeks ago by former judge Larry Richter.
Education superintendent: Elizabeth Moffly, a homeschooling mother and Mount Pleasant businesswoman, faces outgoing Newberry College President Mick Zais.
1st Congressional district: State Rep. Tim Scott and Charleston County Councilman Paul Thurmond, youngest son to late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, are running for the Charleston-based congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Henry Brown. 5th Circuit solicitor: Dan Johnson and John Meadors square off in the Democratic race for solicitor in Richland and Kershaw counties.