- Associated Press - Thursday, June 30, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Only two of the seven candidates she endorsed won their races, and one of her best allies in the state Senate lost a runoff, but South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said she still thinks her campaigns against fellow Republicans in this year’s primaries were successful.

Haley said Thursday her main goal was to put enough pressure on lawmakers to pass ethics reform. The General Assembly did pass bills that require lawmakers and other public officials to reveal who pays their private salaries and have an independent panel investigate allegations of ethics violations against legislators.

The governor said just the pressure of her potentially campaigning - and the more than $500,000 her political group raised for those campaigns - forced the Legislature to act.

“Every one of the incumbents had to talk about ethics for the first time. Even the ones who tried to kill it had no choice but to campaign on it,” Haley said.

One of the lawmakers Haley targeted - Sen. Wes Hayes of Rock Hill - asked lawmakers to pass ethics reform after his loss. When Haley signed the bill, she went to Sen. Larry Martin’s district, and endorsed him. Martin’s 38-year legislative career is now ending after a runoff loss Tuesday.

“That hurts,” Haley said of Martin’s defeat. “It hurts from the standpoint that he was a true conservative statesman. He was very pro-business. He showed leadership.”

Haley’s campaigning could also hurt her agenda in her final two years in office as two of the senators she targeted are likely to lead the Senate’s two most powerful committees. Senate President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman of Florence should remain over the Finance Committee, and Sen. Luke Rankin of Myrtle Beach is set to move into Martin’s position as chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Neither Rankin nor Leatherman returned messages seeking comment. Haley also dodged a question asking how she will handle the Legislature over the next two years before she must leave under term limits.

“You win some, you lose some,” she said.

Along with Hayes, the only other candidate Haley campaigned against to lose was Sen. Lee Bright of Spartanburg, who also was targeted by the Conservation Voters of South Carolina and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

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Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP . His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/jeffrey-collins

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