Today’s Dream Team Scouting Report: #NikkiHaley @nikkihaley, #AmbassadorToTheUnitedNations #TrumpPresidente


Early life and education

Born Nimrata Randhawa in Bamberg, South Carolina, on January 20, 1972, to an Indian Sikh family. Her parents, father Ajit Singh Randhawa and mother Raj Kaur Randhawa, are immigrants from Amritsar District, Punjab, India, where Ajit had been a professor at Punjab Agricultural University and Raj had received her law degree from the University of Delhi.

Haley’s parents immigrated to Canada after her father received a scholarship offer from the University of British Columbia. After her father earned a PhD degree in 1969, he moved his young family to South Carolina to accept a position as a professor at Voorhees College. Her mother, Raj Randhawa earned a master’s degree in education and taught for seven years in the Bamberg, South Carolina public schools before founding her clothing shop Exotica International in 1976.

When Haley was 5 years old, her parents entered her in the “Miss Bamberg” contest. The contest traditionally crowned a black queen and a white queen. The judges decided Haley did not fit either category, so the judges disqualified her.

At age 12, Nikki began helping with the bookkeeping in Exotica International, her mother’s ladies’ clothing shop. The Economist likens her to another shopkeeper’s daughter, Margaret Thatcher, writing that Nikki’s girlhood job in her mother’s shop gave her “an extreme watchfulness about overheads and a sharp aversion to government intrusion.”

Nikki is a graduate of Orangeburg Preparatory Schools and Clemson University, with a BS degree in accounting.


  • Haley worked for FCR Corporation, a waste management and recycling company, before joining her mother’s business, Exotica International, an upscale clothing firm, in 1994. The family business grew to become a multimillion-dollar company.
  • Haley was named to the board of directors of the Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce in 1998.
  • Was named to the board of directors of the Lexington Chamber of Commerce in 2003.
  • Haley became treasurer of the National Association of Women Business Owners in 2003 and president in 2004.
  • She chaired the Lexington Gala to raise funds for the local hospital.
  • She also serves on the Lexington Medical Foundation, Lexington County Sheriff’s Foundation, and West Metro Republican Women.
  • She is president of the South Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners and
  • was chair for the 2006 Friends of Scouting Leadership Division campaign.
  • She is a member of the Rotary Club in Lexington.

South Carolina House of Representatives 

In 2004, Haley ran for the South Carolina House of Representatives for a district in Lexington County. She challenged incumbent state Representative Larry Koon in the Republican primary—the real contest in this heavily Republican district. Koon, who had served since 1975, was the longest-serving member of the House. Her platform was anti-tax and fiscally conservative with an emphasis on education. In the primary election, she forced a runoff as Koon won just 42% of the vote. In the runoff, she defeated him 55%–45%. She then ran unopposed in the general election. She became the first Asian-American of Asian Sikh Indian heritage to hold office in South Carolina.

She was unopposed for re-election to a second term in 2006. In 2008, she won re-election to a third term, defeating Democrat Edgar Gomez 83%–17%.

Haley was elected chair of the freshman caucus in 2005 and majority whip in the South Carolina General Assembly. She was the only freshman legislator named to a whip spot.

Fiscal policy

  • One of Haley’s stated goals is to lower taxes.
  • She voted against a bill to override the governor’s veto to place a surtax on every cigarette produced. The funds earned would be appropriated to smoking prevention programs and cancer research related to smoking.
  • She voted for a bill that raised sales taxes to 6%. The bill exempted sales tax on unprepared food such as canned goods. The same bill also exempts property tax on “owner-occupied residential property” except for the taxes due from what is still owed on the property.
  • Haley has said that funds allocated for public education can be used more effectively. She has proposed a plan that would determine a teacher’s salary based not only on seniority and qualifications but also on job performance.
  • During her gubernatorial campaign, Haley stated that she would be in favor of school choice and more charter schools. She has said that wasteful spending occurs when funds allocated for education sit too long in departmental accounts before being spent.
  • Haley supports barring legislators from collecting legislative pensions while they’re in office. She believes the pensions should be based only on the $10,400 legislative salary instead of the salary plus lawmakers’ $12,000 annual expense allowance.

Immigration policy

  • Haley has stated that, as the daughter of immigrants, she believes the immigration laws should be enforced.
  • She voted in favor of a law that requires employers to be able to prove that newly hired employees are legal residents of the United States, and also requires all immigrants to carry documentation at all times proving that they are legally in the United States.
  • Haley signed an “Arizona-style” law cracking down on illegal immigration in June 2011, but the law is the subject of a lawsuit initiated by the United States Justice Department on numerous grounds, including claims the immigration law violates the Supremacy Clause. Rob Godfrey, a spokesman for Haley, said, “If the feds were doing their job, we wouldn’t have had to address illegal immigration reform at the state level. But, until they do, we’re going to keep fighting in South Carolina to be able to enforce our laws.”


  • Haley has consistently supported bills that protect the rights of a fetus and restrict abortion, except when the mother’s life is at risk. As a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2006, Haley voted for the Penalties for Harming an Unborn Child/Fetus law, which asserted that an act of violence against a fetus is akin to a criminal act against the mother.
  • Also voted for two separate bills that required a woman to first look at an ultrasound and then wait 24 hours before being permitted to have an abortion.
  • Haley has voted yes on some bills relating to abortion that were tabled or rejected, including the Inclusion of Unborn Child/Fetus in Definition for Civil Suits Amendment, Prohibiting Employment Termination Due to Abortion Waiting Period amendment, and Exempting Cases of Rape from Abortion Waiting Period amendment. The last-mentioned bill would have allowed specific cases of women to not have to wait the mandatory 24 hours before having an abortion.

Committee assignments 

Labor, Commerce and Industry
Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs

Caucus memberships

Freshman Caucus, 2005–2006 (Chair)
Lexington County Meth Taskforce
Sportsman’s Caucus
Women’s Caucus, 2007 (Vice Chair)

2010 gubernatorial election

South Carolina gubernatorial election, 2010

Haley was elected governor on November 2, 2010, over the Democratic candidate, Vincent Sheheen 51% to 47%.  She is considered the third non-white person to have been elected as governor of a Southern state, after Virginia’s L. Douglas Wilder and Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal.

Haley’s victory marked the first gubernatorial victory for a Sikh in US history.


Economic policies 

Haley supports lower taxes, opposes regulation and is extremely anti-union.

Confederate flag 

In June 2015, following the Charleston church shooting, Haley led bi-partisan calls for the removal of the Confederate flag from the State Capitol and its grounds. Haley stated:

“These grounds (the State Capital) are a place that everybody should feel a part of. What I realized now more than ever is people were driving by and felt hurt and pain. No one should feel pain.” Haley also said, “There is a place for that flag,” but she said “It’s not in a place that represents all people in South Carolina.”

In July 2015, Haley signed a Bill to authorize removing the Confederate flag from the flagpole on the grounds of the South Carolina Capitol.

LGBT issues

In April 2016, Haley indicated she would not support legislation introduced by the South Carolina State Senate which would require transgender individuals to use restrooms based on biological sex instead of gender identity. Haley stated:

“These are not instances… Y’all haven’t reported on anything. I haven’t heard anything that’s come to my office. So when I look at South Carolina, we look at our situations, we’re not hearing of anybody’s religious liberties that are being violated, and we’re, again, not hearing any citizens that feel like they are being violated in terms of freedoms.”

Haley described such restroom legislation as unnecessary.


Haley has been described as a “strong supporter of the State of Israel”. As South Carolina Governor she signed into law a bill to stop efforts to boycott, divest and sanction Israel. The anti-BDS legislation was the first of kind on a statewide level.

Other issues 

In 2016, Governor Haley was named among “The 100 Most Influential People” by Time magazine.

She also supports a law requiring photo identification at the polls.

2014 re-election

Haley was re-elected on November 4, 2014, with a 55.9 percent to 41.3 percent win, almost tripling her previous margin of victory over Sheheen in 2010 gubernatorial elections. Her second term as governor of South Carolina was set to expire on January 9, 2019.


Personal life 

Haley was raised as a Sikh. In September 1996, she married Michael Haley with both Sikh and Methodist ceremonies. Haley identifies herself today as a Christian, as well as Sikh. She attends Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church, as well as Sikh Gurdwara services.

Her husband is an officer in the South Carolina Army National Guard and was sent on a year-long deployment to Afghanistan in January 2013. The couple has two children, Rena and Nalin.

In May 2015, she received an honorary doctorate in public service from the University of South Carolina.





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