South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley could play a role in the state’s presidential primary. That’s according to one political observer.
Dr. Neal Thigpen is the former head of the political science department at Francis Marion University. He says the race is wide open, despite a recent poll that shows Newt Gingrich is leading in South Carolina.
“How long that will hold, I don’t know. There are some people who feel like (Gingrich) might have peaked a little too soon,” said Thigpen. “There’s time in there for somebody else to move to the top of the heap.”
Thigpen says the race could change if one of the candidates picks up an endorsement from a major state leader, which means that Gov. Haley could potentially be the biggest endorsement in the state. U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, the most-sought after state endorsement, says he will not support one candidate in the primary.
“Haley, I think would very, very much like to be picked up as a vice-presidential running mate. Her chances would not be as great to be picked up with somebody who is a Tea Party candidate. Her chances to be picked up would be greater with somebody like Romney,” Thigpen says.
Thigpen says Haley could provide the strongest endorsement in the state.
“There is no other on the Republican side. We know (Sen. Jim) DeMint isn’t going to endorse. He’s said as much. So the big shoe that has yet to fall is Haley’s endorsement. Now she could surprise everybody and not endorse any of the candidates, but I don’t think so.”
Haley endorsed Romney in the 2008 presidential race while she was a member of the South Carolina Legislature.
Romney also campaigned for Haley while she was running for governor.
South Carolina’s primary is January 21.