State Rep. Nikki Haley of Lexington fell just short of winning outright Tuesday's Republican primary for governor.
Haley, a Tea Party darling, garnered nearly half of all GOP votes. U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett from Westminster claimed second in the four-way GOP contest but trailed Haley badly.
The two, who previously have tussled in televised debates over who is the true conservative, will face off in a June 22 runoff unless Barrett concedes the race before then.
The eventual GOP winner then must begin the long march to November's general election against the Democratic nominee for governor, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden, who glided easily to victory in his party's Tuesday primary.
"We knew from the beginning it was us vs. the establishment," Haley said Tuesday night, addressing a room of supporters in Columbia. "We were settling (in South Carolina) for a Republican House, a Republican Senate, a Republican governor. I won't stop until we get a conservative House, a conservative Senate, a conservative governor."
Barrett, in a speech to his supporters in downtown Greenville, said he is prepped for the runoff battle.
"We're in the runoff, and I'm excited about that," Barrett said. "Now, we"ve got two weeks. … We're going to finish strong, and we're going to make history."
The two are fighting to succeed outgoing Gov. Mark Sanford, a two-term Republican, and secure the $100,078-a-year job.
Garnering only a fraction of the vote, two longtime GOP politicians — state Attorney General Henry McMaster and Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer — conceded they were out of the race. Neither issued an endorsement Tuesday.
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