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By FITSNews || State Rep. Nikki Haley’s long shot bid for the S.C. Republican gubernatorial nomination got a shot in the arm Thursday when her campaign received the endorsement of the S.C. Club for Growth, a leading fiscal conservative advocacy group.  While the announcement was by no means a surprise (the Club has been supporting Haley behind the scenes for months),  it could help her campaign during the five-week sprint to the finish line – particularly in the fund-raising department.

“Nikki Haley clearly stands above the other candidates in the governor’s race given her strong record as a fiscal conservative and reformer,” said S.C. Club for Growth Chairman Chad Walldorf. “She has been a leader in the effort to control government spending while also pushing for increased accountability and personal liberty.”

Indeed, Haley was one of only fifteen Republicans in the S.C. General Assembly to earn an ‘A’ rating from the Club on its 2009 legislative scorecards, and her efforts to push government transparency (at a sizable political cost to herself) have been remarkable.

Unfortunately, as we noted earlier this week, the S.C. Senate is refusing to pass Haley’s transparency bill.

Earlier in the campaign, most political observers viewed Haley as a formidable challenger in the race for the GOP nod.  That all changed last year, however, when S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford’s career imploded in the wake of the Maria Belen Chapur scandal.  As the perceived “Sanford” candidate, Haley’s campaign took a huge hit.

As a result, Haley has struggled to raise money ever since – and currently has about one-third the available cash on hand as each of her “establishment” Republican rivals – S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett.

We’ll have to wait and see if the “Club love” translates into dollars for her campaign …

UPDATE: Well, well … that didn’t take long.  According to The State newspaper, pro-Sanford group Reform SC has made a major ad buy in support of Haley’s transparency efforts. The State isn’t reporting any dollar amounts, but sources close to the organization tell FITS the buy is in the $400-500K range.

The ads will begin running next week …