Nikki Haley, the first woman governor of South Carolina.

South Carolina elected its first woman governor Nov. 2, opting for a Tea Party-backed Republican lawmaker to succeed scandal-stained Gov. Mark Sanford. According to the Huffington Post, Nikki Haley will become the nation’s second Indian American governor when she replaces Sanford, whose term-limited tenure ends in January. Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal also is Indian American. She won with about 52 percent of the vote over state Sen. Vincent Sheheen’s 46 percent. Haley, a 38 year-old married mother of two, earned the backing of Sarah Palin and campaigned stridently as a political outsider seeking to derail entrenched interests in her state’s capitol. South Carolina is the first southern state in the presidential primary circuit and potential Republican candidates for the 2012 White House already are beating paths across the landscape as they donated to her campaign. The child of Sikh immigrants – now a Methodist – Haley helped run her parents’ clothing business, working as a bookkeeper starting in her teens. Haley’s father, who wears the traditional Sikh turban, was a biology professor at a historically black college and her mother taught middle school social studies.

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