04/20/2012 12:26 am ET

Nikki Haley Hopes To Retain Vigor Of 2010 Tea Party-Backed Run

On a warm morning in early March, governor Nikki Haley calls three members of the South Carolina state legislature into her office. They look like truants sent in to see the principal: Haley is earnest and stern, smartly turned out in a black-and-white ruffled jacket, black pencil skirt, and platform stilettos, while the legislators, in baggy suits and cowboy boots, fidget and make excuses. The stakes seem pretty low—they are arguing over a restructuring of the department of transportation that would give Haley more control over it—but one gray-haired representative gets so angry his hands start to shake. He sulkily asks the governor whether she will even be around much longer to see through the agenda she is pressing on them.

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