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Nikki Haley Can't Avoid Runoff in South Carolina

Nikki Haley AP

Updated 10:54 p.m. Eastern Time

South Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley easily outdistanced three competitors in the GOP primary today - but she did not meet the threshold needed to avoid a runoff.

Haley took about 49 percent of the vote with nearly all precincts reporting, just short of the 50 percent she needed to take the nomination.

Rep. Gresham Barrett, one of the most conservative members of the House, took second place and earned the other spot in the June 22nd runoff.

Barrett finished far behind Haley, taking about 22 percent of the vote.

 Attorney General Henry McMaster finished in third place, and Lt. Gov Andre Bauer took fourth.

It's been an eventful campaign for Haley, 38, who is hoping to succeed Republican Mark Sanford as South Carolina governor. After an endorsement from Sarah Palin helped skyrocket Haley to the front of the crowded GOP field, she was accused of an extramarital affair by a South Carolina blogger.

A second man then came forward alleging an affair. Haley vehemently denied both affairs, vowing to resign if proof of them emerges after she is elected.

Then last week a political rival, speaking on an Internet political talk show, called Haley (along with President Obama) "raghead," presumably in reference to her Indian background.

Haley, who pushed herself as a conservative, pro-family candidate, effectively weathered it all; she went into Election Day with a 20-point lead, according to a weekend poll. She was hoping to shift her focus to the general election after today's contest but will now need to continue battling Barrett.

On the Democratic side, State Sen. Vincent Sheheen easily won the gubernatorial nomination and will face an uphill battle against the Republican nominee. It's been twelve years since South Carolina elected a Democratic governor.

Tea Party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint easily won the Republican primary for Senate, while largely-unknown unemployed military veteran Alvin Greene was the surprise winner for the Democrats.

South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis, meanwhile, was forced into a June 22nd runoff against Spartanburg County Solicitor Trey Gowdy. Gowdy finished more than ten points ahead of Inglis, a six-term congressman, but did not reach the 50 percent threshold.

More Coverage of Tuesday's Primaries:

Winners: Blanche Lincoln | Nikki Haley | Meg Whitman | Carly Fiorina | Sharron Angle | Roundup
Anthony Salvanto: What's Next for the Big Primary Winners?
Jeff Greenfield: California Vote to Alter Primaries Could Have Huge Impact
Bob Schieffer: Money and Melodrama Shape Primaries
Marc Ambinder: How Did Sen. Blanche Lincoln Pull Victory From the Jaws of Defeat?
Women Win Big on Primary Day

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