Republican Nikki Haley defeated Democrat Vincent Sheheen in the South Carolina gubernatorial race, handing Tea Party activists a major victory.

Haley, an Indian-American, was a little-known state representative until she surged ahead and eventually won the competitive Republican gubernatorial primary.

Many Republicans view Haley as a rising star in the party; she becomes South Carolina's first female governor.

Sheheen had cut into Haley's lead in recent weeks, but the Republican was able to fend him off on Election Day.