Nikki Haley

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Nikki Haley
Official Photo of SC Governor Nikki Haley.jpg
116th Governor of South Carolina
Assumed office
January 12, 2011
Lieutenant Ken Ard
Glenn McConnell
Yancey McGill
Henry McMaster
Preceded by Mark Sanford
Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives
from the 87th district
In office
January 11, 2005 – January 11, 2011
Preceded by Larry Koon
Succeeded by Todd Atwater
Personal details
Born Nimrata Randhawa
(1972-01-20) January 20, 1972 (age 44)
Bamberg, South Carolina, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Michael Haley
Children 2
Residence Governor's Mansion
Alma mater Clemson University
Religion Methodism (Formerly Sikhism)
Website Government website

Nikki Haley[1][2] (born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa, January 20, 1972)[2][3][4] is an American Republican politician who has served as the Governor of South Carolina since 2011. Prior to her election in 2010 as the 116th governor of the state, she represented Lexington County in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 2005 to 2011.[5]

Haley is the first woman and first minority to serve as Governor of South Carolina; at the age of 44, she is the youngest current governor in the United States.[6][7] She is the second Indian American governor in the United States, after Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. As governor, she also serves as chair, ex-officio, of the board of trustees of the University of South Carolina during her term in office.[8]

On November 4, 2014, Haley was re-elected to a second term as the Governor, a term that will expire on January 9, 2019.[9]

Haley delivered the Republican response to Barack Obama's final State of the Union address on January 12, 2016.[10] She has also been touted as a potential vice-presidential nominee for the Republican ticket.[11]

Early life and education[edit]

Haley was born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa[1][2] in Bamberg, South Carolina, on January 20, 1972, to an Indian Sikh family.[12] She was "always called Nikki, which means "little one," by her family."[13] Her parents, Ajit Singh Randhawa and Raj Kaur Randhawa, are immigrants from Amritsar District, Punjab, India, where Ajit had been a professor at Punjab Agricultural University. Haley's parents emigrated to Canada after her father received a scholarship offer from the University of British Columbia. After earning his PhD in 1969, Ajit moved his young family to South Carolina to accept a position as a professor at Voorhees College.[14]

Haley has two brothers, Mitti, a retired member of the United States Army Chemical Corps who served in Desert Storm, and Charan, a web designer.[14] She also has a sister, Simran, a radio host and Fashion Institute of Technology alumna, born in Singapore.[15][14]

At age 12, Haley began helping with the bookkeeping in her mother's ladies' clothing shop.[16] The Economist likens her with another shopkeeper's daughter, Margaret Thatcher, writing that Haley's girlhood job in her mother's shop gave her, "an extreme watchfulness about overheads and a sharp aversion to government intrusion."[16]

Haley is a graduate of Orangeburg Preparatory Schools and Clemson University, with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting.[17]


Haley worked for FCR Corporation, a waste management and recycling company,[18][19] before joining her mother's business, Exotica International, an upscale clothing firm, in 1994.[20] The family business grew to become a multimillion-dollar company.[20]

Haley was named to the board of directors of the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce in 1998.[21] She was named to the board of directors of the Lexington Chamber of Commerce in 2003. Haley became treasurer of the National Association of Women Business Owners in 2003 and president in 2004.[21] She chaired the Lexington Gala to raise funds for the local hospital.[20] She also serves on the Lexington Medical Foundation, Lexington County Sheriff's Foundation, and West Metro Republican Women. She is president of the South Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners and was chair for the 2006 Friends of Scouting Leadership Division campaign. She is a member of the Rotary Club in Lexington.[22]

South Carolina House of Representatives[edit]


In 2004, Haley ran for the South Carolina House of Representatives for a district in Lexington County. She challenged incumbent state Representative Larry Koon in the Republican primary—the real contest in this heavily Republican district. Koon, who had served since 1975, was the longest-serving member of the House. Her platform was anti-tax and fiscally conservative with an emphasis on education.[23] In the primary election, she forced a runoff as Koon won just 42% of the vote. She placed second with 40% of the vote.[24] In the runoff, she defeated him 55%–45%.[25] She then ran unopposed in the general election.[26] She became the first Indian-American to hold office in South Carolina.[27][28]

She was unopposed for re-election to a second term in 2006.[29] In 2008, she won re-election to a third term, defeating Democrat Edgar Gomez 83%–17%.[30][31]


Haley was elected chair of the freshman caucus in 2005 and majority whip in the South Carolina General Assembly.[22] She was the only freshman legislator named to a whip spot.[32]

Fiscal policy[edit]

One of Haley's stated goals is to lower taxes. She voted against a bill to override the governor's veto (when Mark Sanford was still in office) to place a surtax on every cigarette produced. The funds earned would be appropriated to smoking prevention programs and cancer research related to smoking.[33] She voted for a bill that raised sales taxes to six percent. The bill exempted sales tax on unprepared food such as canned goods. The same bill also exempts property tax on "owner-occupied residential property" except for the taxes due from what is still owed on the property.[34]

Haley has said that funds allocated for public education can be used more effectively. She has proposed a plan that would determine a teacher's salary based not only on seniority and qualifications but also on job performance. This performance rating would be determined by evaluations and reports from principals, students, and parents.[35] During her gubernatorial campaign, Haley stated that she would be in favor of school choice and more charter schools.[36] She has said that wasteful spending occurs when funds allocated for education sit too long in departmental accounts before being spent.[citation needed]

Haley supports barring legislators from collecting legislative pensions while they're in office. She believes the pensions should be based only on the $10,400 legislative salary instead of the salary plus lawmakers' $12,000 annual expense allowance.[37]

Immigration policy[edit]

Haley has stated that, as the daughter of immigrants, she believes the immigration laws should be enforced.[38] She voted in favor of a law that requires employers to be able to prove that newly hired employees are legal residents of the United States, and also requires all immigrants to carry documentation at all times proving that they are legally in the United States. The law was adopted, but is currently the subject of a lawsuit initiated by the United States Justice Department on numerous grounds, including claims the immigration law violates the Supremacy Clause. Rob Godfrey, a spokesman for Haley, said, "If the feds were doing their job, we wouldn't have had to address illegal immigration reform at the state level. But, until they do, we're going to keep fighting in South Carolina to be able to enforce our laws."[39]

Social policy[edit]

Haley is pro-life and consistently voted for bills that restrict abortion and protect unborn fetuses. She also voted for bills that allow abortions in circumstances in which abortion might be necessary to save the woman's life. She voted for the Penalties for Harming an Unborn Child/Fetus law in 2006, the Pre-Abortion Ultrasound law in 2007, and the 24-Hour Waiting Period for Abortions bill in the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2009. The Penalties for Harming an Unborn Child/Fetus law says that any act of violence against a fetus is like a criminal act against the mother.[citation needed] The Pre-abortion Ultrasound law requires the woman considering an abortion to look at an ultrasound image before she is allowed to have an abortion.[citation needed] In addition, the 24-Hour Waiting Period for Abortions bill would have required the woman to wait one day from the time of the ultrasound before she is allowed to have an abortion.[citation needed]

Haley also voted yes on some bills relating to abortion that were tabled or rejected, including the Inclusion of Unborn Child/Fetus in Definition for Civil Suits Amendment, Prohibiting Employment Termination Due to Abortion Waiting Period amendment, and Exempting Cases of Rape from Abortion Waiting Period amendment. The last-mentioned bill would have allowed specific cases of women to not have to wait the mandatory 24 hours before having an abortion.[40]

Committee assignments[edit]

  • Labor, Commerce and Industry[41]
  • Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs

Caucus memberships[edit]

  • Freshman Caucus, 2005–2006 (Chair)
  • Lexington County Meth Taskforce
  • Sportsman's Caucus
  • Women's Caucus, 2007 (Vice Chair)[42]

2010 election for Governor[edit]

County-by-county results

On May 14, 2009, Haley announced that she would be running for the Republican nomination for Governor of South Carolina in 2010.[43] Haley had been persuaded to run by incumbent Governor Mark Sanford.[44] On November 11, 2009, she was endorsed by former Massachusetts governor and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, as well as Jenny Sanford, the incumbent first lady of South Carolina.[45][46][47] She was polling last in the GOP race before a surprise endorsement from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, three weeks before the primary vote.[48] The Republican gubernatorial primary took place on June 8, 2010, and Haley captured 49% of the vote, necessitating a runoff election on June 22.[49] Haley won handily in the runoff vote.[50]

Haley was elected governor on November 2, 2010, over the Democratic candidate, Vincent Sheheen 51% to 47%.[51] She is considered the third non-white person to have been elected as governor of a Southern state, after Virginia's L. Douglas Wilder and Louisiana's Bobby Jindal. (Though notably, Nikki Haley identified herself as “white” on her voter registration card in 2001.[52])

In July 2013, Haley was fined $3,500 by the State Ethics Commission and given a "public warning" for failing to report the addresses of eight donors during her 2010 campaign for governor.[53]


Economic policies[edit]

Haley supports lower taxes and opposes regulation. In inviting business to move to South Carolina she has said:

What I'm saying is, if you come to South Carolina, the cost of doing business is going to be low here. We are going to make sure that you have a loyal, willing workforce and we are going to be one of the lowest union-participation states in the country.[54][55]

Other policies[edit]

Haley signed a law cracking down on illegal immigration in June 2011.[56] She supports a law requiring photo identification at the polls.[57]

In June 2015, following the Charleston church shooting, Haley led bi-partisan calls for the removal of the Confederate flag from the State Capitol and its grounds.[58]

In July 2015 Haley signed a Bill to authorize removing the Confederate flag from the flagpole on the grounds of the South Carolina Capitol.[59][60]

2014 re-election[edit]

On August 12, 2013, Haley announced she would seek a second term during a rally August 26, 2013, at the BI-LO Center in downtown Greenville.[61] She faced a challenge in the primaries for Republican nomination from Tom Ervin. However Ervin withdrew and then contested the 2014 gubernatorial elections as independent.[62][63]

As in 2010, Vincent Sheheen of the Democratic party was once again her challenger. Republican-turned-Independent Tom Ervin was also running in early stages of the contest, as well as Libertarian Steve French, and United Citizens Party candidate Morgan Bruce Reeves.[63] The first public debate was held in Charleston on October 14, between French, Ervin, Haley, Reeves, and Sheheen.[64] The second public debate in Greenville on October 21, again included all five candidates.[65] A week after the second debate, Ervin withdrew from the race and endorsed Sheheen.[66]

Haley was re-elected on November 4, 2014, with a 55.9 percent to 41.3 percent win, almost tripling her previous margin of victory over Sheheen in 2010 gubernatorial elections.[67] Her second term as governor of South Carolina expires in January 2019.

Discussed as potential Republican Vice-Presidential candidate[edit]

Because of her attraction as a female and minority candidate, and what The Economist calls her combination of "fiscal ferocity and a capacity for conciliation," Haley was mentioned early in 2016 as a potential candidate for the Vice-Presidency.[16][11]

Personal life[edit]

Haley was born and raised as a Sikh. On September 6, 1996, she married Michael Haley in both a Methodist church ceremony and a Sikh gurdwara.[68] Haley identifies herself today as a Christian,[69] but attends both Sikh and Methodist services.[70] She sits on the board for Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church.[71]

In 2007 political blogger Will Folks alleged that he had an affair with Haley. She denied the allegation that she had an affair with Folks.[72][73]

Her husband is an officer in the South Carolina Army National Guard and was sent on a year-long deployment to Afghanistan in January 2013.[74][75][76] The couple have two children, Rena and Nalin.[77][78]

In May 2015, she received an honorary doctorate in public service from the University of South Carolina.[8]


  1. ^ a b Milbank, Dana (August 9, 2012). "Nikki Haley (R): Path to Power". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Dewan, Shaila; Brown, Robbie (June 13, 2010). "All Her Life, Nikki Haley Was the Different One". The New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  3. ^ Rucker, Philip (2010-06-08). "Nikki Haley: 10 things you didn't know about the S.C. Republican". Washington Post Voices. 
  4. ^ Page, Susan (2012-04-02). "Don't say 'no' to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley". USA Today. 
  5. ^ "Belles of the South". Audrey. April–May 2006.
  6. ^ Phillips, Jack (November 3, 2010). "Nikki Haley First Indian-American Gov. of South Carolina". The Epoch Times (New York). Retrieved July 25, 2011. 
  7. ^ Fausset, Richard (November 2, 2010). "Nikki Haley bests Vincent Sheheen for South Carolina governor". Los Angeles Times. 
  8. ^ a b "Haley, Scott, Staley to deliver UofSC commencement addresses". 
  9. ^ "Republican Nikki Haley wins governor race in South Carolina". The Washington Post. November 4, 2014.
  10. ^ "Republican response to State of the Union: Transcript -". CNN. 13 January 2016. Archived from the original on 13 January 2016. 
  11. ^ a b Phillips, Amber (6 January 2016). "Gov. Nikki Haley just got a chance to try out for vice president". (The Washington Post). Retrieved 13 January 2016. 
  12. ^ Theroux, Paul (2015). Deep South: Four Seasons on Back Roads. London, UK: Hamish Hamilton. p. 42. ISBN 9780241146729. 
  13. ^ Dewan, Shaila (14 June 2010). "All Her Life, the Different One". New York Times. 
  14. ^ a b c Lavina Melwani (2010-12-30). "The Nikki Haley Story". Lassi with Lavina. Retrieved 2015-01-11. 
  15. ^ Raj Randhawa Takes Her Family Business from Strength to Strength – NRI Achievers Archived September 28, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ a b c "Haley's Comet". The Economist. 16 January 2016. 
  17. ^ Gamage Daya (2010-06-12). "Nikki Haley: Daughter of Indian Sikh immigrants destined to be South Carolina Governor". Asian Tribune. Retrieved 2011-07-25. 
  18. ^ MANTA,
  19. ^,
  20. ^ a b c "Nikki Haley in runoff for South Carolina Assembly Republican Primaries". Indian American Center for Political Awareness. 2004. Archived from the original on August 1, 2007. 
  21. ^ a b "Representative Nikki Randhawa Haley". South Carolina General Assembly.
  22. ^ a b "Representative Nikki Randhawa Haley Bio". Official site. Archived December 10, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Nikki Randhawa wins in S Carolina". NRI Internet. November 3, 2004.
  24. ^ "Nikki Randhawa-Haley eyes South Carolina assembly" NRI Internet.
  25. ^ "SC State House 087 – R Runoff Race – Jun 22, 2004". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-07-19. 
  26. ^ "SC State House 087 Race – Nov 02, 2004". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-07-19. 
  27. ^ "Sikh Busimess woman won the run-off election to the South Carolina State Assembly". NRI Internet. June 10, 2004.
  28. ^ "Nikki Randhawa set to get US House berth". The Tribune (Chandigarh). June 25, 2004. (Note that the Tribune headline is in error. In 2004, Haley was set to win election to the state legislature, not to Congress.)
  29. ^ "November 7 2006 South Carolina State Wide General Election Official Results: State House of Representatives District 087". South Carolina Election Returns. Retrieved November 24, 2011.
  30. ^ "SC State House 087 Race – Nov 04, 2008". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-07-19. 
  31. ^ "State House of Representatives District 87". 2008 General Election. Retrieved November 24, 2011.
  32. ^ Sikh American woman is Republican whip The Tribune, Chandigarh – January 18, 2006
  33. ^ "Budget Spending and Taxes". Cigarette Tax. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  34. ^ "Project Vote Smart". Sales and Property Taxes. Retrieved 2011-11-10. 
  35. ^ "Nikki Haley Governor". South Carolina Education. Retrieved 2011-11-10. 
  36. ^ "Nikki Haley Unveils Education Plan". Retrieved 2011-11-10. 
  37. ^ "S.C. governor targets legislators' pensions â€"". September 29, 2011. Retrieved 2013-07-19. 
  38. ^ "Gov. Nikki Haley signs illegal immigration police checks law – The Post and Courier". Retrieved 2013-07-19. 
  39. ^ "Immigration Law". U.S. Sues South Carolina. Retrieved 2011-11-10. [dead link]
  40. ^ "ProjectVoteSmart". Legislation: Nikki Haley. Philipsburg, MT: One Common Ground. Retrieved 2011-11-03. 
  41. ^ "Haley Appointed To Lead Banking, Consumer Affairs Committee". Retrieved 2013-07-19. 
  42. ^ "Governor Nikki Haley's Biography – Project Vote Smart". 1972-01-20. Retrieved 2013-07-19. 
  43. ^ O'Conner, John (May 14, 2009). "Rep. Haley announces bid to become state's first female governor". The State. (Columbia, SC).
  44. ^ Rutenberg, Jim (26 June 2014). "Mark Sanford’s Path of Most Resistance". New York Times. Retrieved 30 June 2014. 
  45. ^ Kraushaar, Josh (March 16, 2010). "Romney backs Haley in S.C.". Politico. 
  46. ^ Palin, Sarah (May 14, 2010). "Shaking it up in South Carolina with Nikki Haley". Facebook.
  47. ^ Barr, Andy (2009-11-11). "Jenny Sanford endorses in gov race". Politico. 
  48. ^ Palin endorses Haley for S.C. governor. Politico. 2010-05-03.
  49. ^ Davenport, Jim (June 9, 2010). "Haley weathers tryst accusations in SC gov race". Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 15, 2010.  Also published on as "Sordid S.C. governor's race heads to runoff"
  50. ^ Davenport, Jim. "Haley’s S.C. win ensures spot on national stage". Boston Globe. Associated Press. Retrieved August 13, 2013.  The State in Columbia, S.C. also published an earlier version, "Republicans tap Haley for gov, make history".
  51. ^ Evans, Jason (November 2010). "Nikki Haley to be state's first female governor". The Pickens Sentinel. Retrieved 2011-07-25. 
  52. ^ "Indian Nikki Haley Says She Is White". Mother Jones. July 29, 2011.
  53. ^ "Nikki Haley Hit With Fine, Ethics Warning". Newsmax. 
  54. ^ Martel, Ned (December 15, 2011). "Nikki Haley picks Romney, but can they help each other?" The Washington Post.
  55. ^ Macgillis, Alec (2011-12-16). "Romney ... Receives Haley Nod". Retrieved 2013-07-19. 
  56. ^ Richard Fausset (January 18, 2012). "For Romney, immigration issue offers an opportunity". Los Angeles Times. 
  57. ^ Collins, Jeffrey (January 22, 2012). "Nikki Haley Excoriated By Black Leaders Over South Carolina Voter ID Law". The Huffington Post. 
  58. ^ "Nikki Haley, South Carolina Governor, Calls for Removal of Confederate Battle Flag". NY Times. 
  59. ^ "South Carolina Confederate Flag Removal Bill - Video -". 
  60. ^ "South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley Signs Confederate Flag Bill Into Law". 9 July 2015. 
  61. ^ Larson, Leslie (August 12, 2013). "South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will run for reelection, bringing in GOP heavyweights Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry, Scott Walker and Tim Scott for formal announcement". Daily News (New York). Retrieved August 13, 2013. 
  62. ^ "Nikki Haley Draws a Primary Opponent". FITSNews. March 29, 2014. Retrieved March 29, 2014. 
  63. ^ a b "Nikki Haley Challenger to Run as Independent". FITSNews. April 11, 2014. Retrieved April 13, 2014. 
  64. ^ South Carolina Gubernatorial Debate C-Span (October 14, 2014)
  65. ^ Gov. Haley defends positions on education, health care in second debate Jeremy Borden, Post and Courier (October 26, 2014)
  66. ^ Tom Ervin drops out, endorses Vincent Sheheen The Post and Courier (October 28, 2014)
  67. ^ Nikki Haley's 14-point victory gives her mandate, experts say Greenville, Garnett Publications (November 5, 2014)
  68. ^ Dewan, Shaila; Brown, Robbie (June 13, 2010). "In South Carolina Governor's Race, Nikki Haley Focuses on Similarities". The New York Times. 
  69. ^ Nikki Haley for South Carolina Governor. "Question: Is Nikki a Christian?". Truth in Facts. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  70. ^ O'Connor, John (June 4, 2010). "S.C. state Sen. Knotts uses racial slur against Haley". McClatchy DC. Associated Press. Retrieved December 26, 2015. 
  71. ^ "Meet Nikki Haley". Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  72. ^ Caldwell, Leigh Ann (January 23, 2015). "Is Nikki Haley Poised For A National Comeback?". NBC News. 
  73. ^ Smith, Logan (May 24, 2010). "Haley denies affair with political blogger on WVOC". Columbia, South Carolina: WIS-TV. 
  74. ^ "South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley's husband deploying to Afghanistan". CNN. January 10, 2013. Retrieved 11 January 2013. 
  75. ^ "Haley plans to work with legislators – 2010 Race for the Governor". The State. Columbia, SC. 2010-06-18. Retrieved 2010-07-31. [dead link]
  76. ^ Susanne M. Schafer (10 January 2013). "S.C. Gov. Haley’s husband deploys with Guard". Army Times (Fort Jackson, South Carolina). Associated Press. Retrieved 12 January 2013. 
  77. ^ "Home". Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-25. 
  78. ^ "Republicans tap Haley for gov, make history". The State. Columbia, SC. 2010-06-22. Archived from the original on June 26, 2010. Retrieved 2011-07-25. 

External links[edit]

South Carolina House of Representatives
Preceded by
Larry Koon
Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives
from the 87th district

Succeeded by
Todd Atwater
Political offices
Preceded by
Mark Sanford
Governor of South Carolina
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mark Sanford
Republican nominee for Governor of South Carolina
2010, 2014
Most recent
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Joe Biden
as Vice President
Order of Precedence of the United States
Within South Carolina
Succeeded by
Mayor of city
in which event is held
Succeeded by
Otherwise Paul Ryan
as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Larry Hogan
as Governor of Maryland
Order of Precedence of the United States
Outside South Carolina
Succeeded by
Maggie Hassan
as Governor of New Hampshire