Published on December 6th, 20120
Will Rep.Tim Scott replace Sen. Jim DeMint ?
Within minutes of Sen. Jim DeMint’s surprise decision to leave the Senate, all eyes turned to Gov. Nikki Haley: Not only will the first-term governor appoint DeMint’s successor, she’ll set off dominoes that will shape the next two years in Palmetto State politics, culminating with two U.S. Senate elections.
The driving question is whether Haley selects a caretaker for the seat who would agree not to run for the full six-year term in 2014 — or taps an ally that would help cement her legacy. A spokesman for the governor declined to speculate on a timeline for the decision.
Rep. Tim Scott is seen as the leading contender for the appointment among GOP consultants, largely because of the historical significance. A conservative African-American from Charleston, Scott would provide diversity and geographic balance.
“Scott is head and shoulders above any other possible appointee,” said a conservative Republican lobbyist.
“The only way that she doesn’t pick Tim Scott is if she picks herself,” said South Carolina GOP strategist Wesley Donehue. “It makes all the sense in the world.”
The reasons Scott’s name has quickly risen the the top are legion (and for more on the man himself, see the National Journal magazine’s recent profile):
* Given the premium the Republican Party has placed on diversification since the 2012 election, adding Scott to its Senate caucus would be nothing but good. He would be the only current black senator and the first Republican black senator since the 1970s.
What’s more, this is the state of longtime Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.), where having a black senator would make a huge historical statement. (Further symbolism: Scott easily dispatched Thurmond’s son, Paul Thurmond, in an open primary for his House seat in 2010.)
* Scott and Haley are friendly. They even recently crashed the Democratic National Convention together.
* Scott has a down-the-line conservative record that few in the party would balk at. The Club for Growth likes him, and the tea party likes him. In addition, he’s a member of the House leadership and thus has ties to the establishment wing of the party.
“Tim Scott has an excellent record on our issues, but right now we’re not even thinking about who the replacement will be,” Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller told The Fix.
Added conservative blogger Erick Erickson: “Gov. Nikki Haley now has the ability to give the US Senate its only black Senator — a conservative from South Carolina named Tim Scott.
The choice of who will replace Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) for the next two years rests with one person and one person alone: Nikki Haley.
And it’s much harder to handicap an appointment than an election.
But when it comes to the choice before Haley, one candidate quickly stands out as making a whole lot of sense to join the upper chamber: Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).