" 'That said, those opponents will not be the focus of our campaign -- we will keep our focus on reforming the backward way South Carolina's government operates and bringing good government back to the people.' "
By Gurmukh Singh

Toronto, July 28 - Yet another Indian American, this time a woman born to Sikh parents from Amritsar, is in the race to become governor of a US state.

Nikki Randhawa Haley, 37, who is in the fray for the post of governor of South Carolina in the US, says she is in the race to win. If she gets elected, Nikki will be the first Indian American woman to become governor in the US, and the second Indian after Bobby Jindal of Louisiana state.

A member of the South Carolina state assembly since 2004, Nikki is one of the three candidates to seek nomination from her Republican party for the 2010 elections.

'I don't do anything halfway -- I'm in this race to win,' Haley told IANS in an interview. 'I am confident that come November 2010, the people of South Carolina will send me to the Governor's Mansion.'

And she was quick to add: 'When they - do, I will immediately get to work to give them progress that makes them proud.'

Born to Sikh parents from Amritsar, Nikki said she is now in the midst of raising money for her campaign to succeed.

'As we travel across the state meeting with folks and spreading the message of bringing good government back to South Carolina, folks have been incredibly responsive.

'This is going to be an expensive race, and we need all the support we can get, but I have every confidence we will raise every dollar we need to win,' she said.

Her message is resonating with the people of her state as she campaigns on a three-point agenda: reining in out-of-control spending, making government more accountable and tackling high unemployment rate by taking care of South Carolina businesses.

Though she joined the race for nomination much after the other two aspirants, Nikki has already raised over $200,000.

'In a little less than six weeks we were able to raise over $211,000 -- a solid showing in about half a financial quarter,' said the mother of two children.

Asked whether her Indian background will matter in the race, she said: 'What matters most in South Carolina -- and I imagine elsewhere in the country -- is not the personalities of the candidates but the message they carry.

'Our message of bringing good government back to the people of this state, creating jobs by reforming our tax code so it's flatter and fairer, and reminding government of the value of a dollar resonates with all the people of this state.'

Reminded of her maiden campaign in 2004 when her opponents had raised the issue of her ethnic background, she said: 'I imagine my opponents will throw everything they can and more at me over the course of the campaign.

'That said, those opponents will not be the focus of our campaign -- we will keep our focus on reforming the backward way South Carolina's government operates and bringing good government back to the people.'

Nikki added: 'I am very proud of my background and how I was raised. Just as in 2004 I will hold my head high and focus on what I can do for the people of this state.'


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