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The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

New South Carolina Senator Announced Today



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The AP reports that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will announcing a replacement for U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint at noon Monday at the Statehouse.

For what it is worth, the Post and Courier of Charleston urged Haley to pick Rep. Tim Scott this weekend:

S.C. voters re-elected Mr. DeMint by a large margin in 2010. Thus, his replacement should be a good match for the outgoing senator’s conservative philosophy. Rep. Scott fits the bill — and is in especially close agreement with Sen. DeMint on the long-overdue necessities of restraining runaway federal spending and reforming entitlement programs.

» Whoever replaces Mr. DeMint must operate in the political realm. But the governor’s finalists include two people who have never even run for office. South Carolina doesn’t need a senator who’s learning politics on that high-stakes job — or one who has never earned the voters’ approval.

Rep. Scott has ample experience in elective offices — and in winning them. He served 13 years on Charleston County Council and two in the S.C. House before being elected to the U.S. House in 2010. Last month, he won a second congressional term by a large margin.

And other lawmakers in the area are already considering their options if Scott is named, and a House seat opens up:

State Rep. Chip Limehouse smiled broadly. The Republican was in what he called home territory and said he’s often at Summerville events. But he’s also eyeing Congressman Tim Scott’s seat that could become vacant if the tea party congressional star is nabbed for Gov. Nikki Haley’s appointment to U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint’s seat. And while Summerville isn’t in Limehouse’s state house district, it is in Scott’s Congressional District 1.

“There’s speculation that Gov. Haley may pick Tim Scott to fill the vacancy,” Limehouse said. ”It’s not premature. It’s just a good thing regardless of whether the race occurs or not … If that occurs I will definitely be strongly considering entering the race. At this point, all I can say is that I hope Tim Scott gets picked by the governor.”

A special election would be required to fill the Congressional seat. But Limehouse isn’t the only politician waiting to see who the governor appoints. S.C. Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Goose Creek, has also expressed interest in seeking Scott’s seat.

“I definitely would give it a hard look,” Grooms said. “It’s just premature talk right now.”

UPDATE: CNN is reporting Haley called former state attorney general Henry McMaster and told him he is not her selection.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Kurt Pickhardt, Haley’s political director, just Tweeted, “Today is going to be historic.” While you can interpret that remark many ways, it certainly seems to hint to Tim Scott, who would become the first black Senator from a Southern state since Blanche Bruce in 1881; only the second from the South in U.S. history and only the seventh black Senator in U.S. history.

Alternatively, either former first lady Jenny Sanford or Catherine Templeton, director of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, would be the first woman senator from South Carolina if named by Haley.


Tags: Elizabeth Emken , State Department , Nikki Haley , Tim Scott


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