Though she still holds a double-digit lead in the polls, Nikki Haley's bid for South Carolina's Republican governorship has grown increasingly fraught. Fresh accusations about her infidelity have emerged from political lobbyist Larry Marchant — which, like the earlier claims, the Tea Party-endorsed Haley has denied — and senior Republican senator Jake Knotts stirred up a racial storm yesterday by labeling the candidate, who is of Indian descent, a "raghead" on an internet radio show. Haley says her GOP-approved opponent Andre Bauer is driving a smear campaign against her. Is she right? (Watch Larry Marchant's comments about his affair)

Haley's conspiracy theories are well-grounded: This is a "coordinated attack" from "elitists in the GOP establishment," says Conservative at Palmetto State Politics. The "raghead" slur-slinging senator is a noted supporter of Bauer, whose team has sent out e-mails highlighting Haley's "Sikh faith" though she's a practicing Methodist. And who did Larry Marchant work for? Andre Bauer. "They are unable to handle Nikki on the issues," so they're resorting to dirty tricks.
"Bauer campaign coordinating attacks on Haley and Connor"

If it is a smear campaign, it's having the opposite effect: As this campaign gets uglier and uglier, it's worth remembering that Haley is a "far-right, Palin-backed candidate" who wants to drag South Carolina "even further to the right," says Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly. Whether their efforts are coordinated or not, these "clowns" are actually turning her into a "sympathetic figure with their vile attacks."
"South Carolina politics gets even uglier"

Senior Republicans need to clean up this mess: Why "does every political race in South Carolina look like a screening of Deliverance?" asks Dan Riehl at Riehl World View. It's time for South Carolina Republican like Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint — "national GOP leaders" both — to come home and clean up this "cesspool of antiquated racial politics." Republicans are better than this.
"Jake Knotts: Dude, who stole my redneck?"