Did a sex scandal help S.C. gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley?

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The cornerstone of feminism is equal treatment. So, when allegations started leaking out claiming that GOP gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley was a cheating harlot — in a state that already has a cheating governor — you'd think that her campaign would've been dead in the muddy South Carolina political waters.

But no. Last night, Haley faired very well in the S.C. primaries.

Hoping to become the state's first female nominee for governor from a major party, Haley captured 49 percent of the vote to U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett's 22 percent. A majority of the vote was needed to avoid the June 22 runoff.

No, she didn't come out right and win, but for a woman embroiled in a sex scandal in the Palmetto State, this says a lot.

Last week, a state lobbyist who had resigned from Bauer's campaign claimed he had a tryst with Haley in 2008. It was the second such allegation, following one by a former aide to Gov. Mark Sanford who said he had physical relations with Haley in 2007. Haley vigorously denied both accusations.

Fifty-four percent of voters do not believe she has had extramarital affairs while 13 percent do, with 33 percent undecided.

"Nikki Haley's in good shape," said PPP's Dean Debnam. "Her campaign has deflected the allegations against her well and so far she hasn't suffered any political damage in the wake of them."

If Haley were a male candidate, would she have faired as well? When men are accused of cheating or facing allegations similar to those made against Haley, their career is pretty much over. Remember Gary Hart?

But Haley has scored endorsements from GOP pin up girl Sarah Palin and the former wife of the Luv Guv, Jenny Sanford, according to Politics Daily.

Jenny Sanford, the ex-wife of the current governor -- who must be grateful that Haley's troubles moved his Argentine adventures off the radar – also endorsed Haley.

At campaign appearances, Haley was often accompanied by her husband, Michael, who was featured in a television ad with their two children. In the ad, Haley said, "I've seen the dark side of our state's politics and I know the bright side of our state's people." She spoke about her Methodist faith (her parents are Sikhs) and the importance of family.

Appearing before supporters Tuesday night, The New York Times reported, Haley said to her husband: "This is what kept me strong," adding, "I think he'll make a cute first man, don't you?"

South Carolina voters seemed anxious to move past the allegations of infidelity. Either they ignored the claims, sick of the ridicule and eager to discuss more substantive issues, or warmed to Haley because of it. Polls showed that Haley's support increased after the allegations and crowds at recent rallies expressed sympathy and cheered her on.

Is South Carolina gearing up for another scandal-plagued governor or was this just ugly politics to keep a woman out of the Palmetto State's highest office?

It's not as if any of the men claiming to have banged Haley had proof — you know, like romance novel like e-mails or plane tickets. If I were a S.C. resident, I'd wonder if we'd be searching for another governor on the Appalachian Trail again.

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