Nikki Haley, the tea party favorite who overcame controversy and rose to national prominence this year, was elected South Carolina's first female governor Tuesday.
With more than 90 percent of precincts reporting, the rising Republican star had collected 52 percent of the vote. Democratic state senator Vincent Sheheen had 46 percent, according to the New York Times. Sheheen congratulated Haley Tuesday night, saying the race had been "oh, oh, so close."
In a state that has elected only white males to the Governor's Mansion, the former state lawmaker's election is historic.
Haley, the daughter of Sikh immigrants, will be the state's first nonwhite governor - and the nation's second Indian-American governor.
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Early this year, Haley won endorsements from GOP luminaries including Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and former S.C. first lady Jenny Sanford. She went on to beat three better-financed, better-established opponents in the GOP primary.
Polls showed that Haley had lost some of her edge during the final weeks of her campaign. But running in a conservative state during a difficult year for Democrats, Sheheen faced an uphill fight.
Haley will succeed Mark Sanford, a Republican whose final 18 months in office were marred by revelations of an affair with an Argentine woman and the breakup of his marriage.
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