1-on-1 with Gov.-elect Haley

By Bill Sharpe bio | email

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Barely two days have passed since Nikki Haley was named South Carolina's newest governor. While she admits the realization that she will be the state's head executive has not quite hit her yet, she is already focusing on her first-year goals.

"What we really get done for South Carolina in the first year, that's what will make history; that's what I want people to look at and say, 'Look at what she just did. That's important to me,'" said governor-elect Nikki Haley in the first sit-down interview since her election day victory Tuesday.

She says she's not focusing on the history she's making by being not only the first woman to serve as South Carolina's governor, but also the first minority. To Haley, history lies in being a good governor for the state.

"I want every state in the country to look at South Carolina and say, 'That's how you do it,'"she said.

After years of contention between Gov. Mark Sanford at members of the State House, Haley is trying to change that. In a meeting with Republican state senators, she said she wants to start working together instead of against them.

At one point in Sanford's tenure as governor, the relationship between the governor's office and the State House became so animated, Sanford walked two pigs -- named "Pork" and "Barrel" -- to the State House steps.

Glenn McConnell, the leader of the state Senate, said he was impressed with Haley's intent to build a relationship with elected officials in the State House.

"The tone of the meeting was, 'Let's work together,'" he said.

McConnell's brother Sam was one of the Republicans who helped lead the fight to defeat Haley, but she said she bears no hard feelings or grudges.

"There's no time for personality issues. We've got real, serious issues with unemployment, with spending, with ObamaCare -- my focus is to work with anybody and everybody," Haley said.

State Senator Larry Grooms says the new governor-elect is reach out and the act is refreshing.

"She's indicated her door is open and says, 'I hope yours is open. If you win, I win; if we all win, the state wins, and that's what I'm all about.," he said.

Monday she is expected to announce the details of her transition team.

Haley takes office Jan. 12, 2011.

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