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10 Biggest Election Wins

7. Nikki Haley (R-SC) Beats Vincent Sheheen (D)

The 38-year-old Republican Haley and 39-year-old Democrat Sheheen spent the final weeks of the campaign shadowboxing with two people not on the ticket. Sheheen took shots at Mark Sanford, South Carolina’s Republican governor, who jumped into the national spotlight after his hike down the Appalachian Trail landed him in the arms of his Argentinean mistress. Haley, backed by Sarah Palin and her pack of Mama Grizzlies, clawed at President Obama, saying his statist ways were dragging the country backward. The Indian-American Haley caught the attention of the national party, which relied on some pretty familiar faces to help win the Republican majority in Washington. South Carolina is a proving ground for Republican candidates in presidential elections. (See John McCain’s Palmetto State debacle in 2000.) Haley’s victory was less impressive than many expected. What the 2010 campaign proved was that the local GOP remains a fractious group with in-fighting the norm. The presidential primary should be a humdinger. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

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