Haley staying on 1st district sideline — for now

Gov. Nikki Haley said Monday she won’t take sides in the 16-way Republican primary created when she appointed Tim Scott to the U.S. Senate.

Gov. Nikki Haley said Monday she won’t take sides in the 16-way Republican primary created when she appointed Tim Scott to the U.S. Senate.

“You’ve got way too many candidates in there, and they’re all very good candidates,” she said.

Haley said it’s possible she might endorse a candidate after the March 19 GOP primary but before the all-but-certain April 2 runoff. (A candidate must get more than 50 percent on March 19 to avoid a runoff).

“We’ll see,” she said of a late March endorsement. “We haven’t decided.”

Haley called the 16-candidate field “massive,” adding, “I think it is a short amount of time, and I hope that there are enough venues that people can really get to know the candidates.”

Among the 16 is her former mentor, former Gov. Mark Sanford, who also held the 1st Congressional District seat from 1994-2000. Sanford has said his re-entry into politics was unexpected. His final term as governor was marked by a scandal in which he left the state to visit his mistress in Argentina and then got hit with a record ethics fine.

Asked if she thought voters are ready to forgive Sanford, Haley said, “That’s a question for voters. What I will tell you is this is his old congressional district. They know how he’s voted in the past, and that’s the way they’ll look at it going forward.”

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