The Campaign Spot

Nikki Haley Picks Tim Scott for U.S. Senate

Multiple media sources are reporting that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will indeed name Rep. Tim Scott to be the next senator from South Carolina.

Scott will serve for two years, and then presumably run in a special election in 2014. If reelected, he would serve an additional two years (the remaining two years of the six-year term Jim DeMint was elected to in 2010) and then potentially run again for a full-six year term in 2016.

Tim Scott will instantly become a major figure in the GOP, as the lone African-American Republican in Congress. (The symbolism of Scott representing the home state of Strom Thurmond in the Senate, after beating Thurmond’s son in his first U.S. House race, is quite powerful.) He is a genuine rising star in South Carolina politics, with Southern charisma to spare, punctuating his Obama critiques this past year with bursts of “hit the road, Jack.”

But South Carolina doesn’t lack Republicans with ambition, and those who aspire to the Senate will have a choice in 2014: challenge the appointed Sen. Tim Scott (and run the risk of a white challenger unseating the party’s the lone black representative) or take on the other incumbent, Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has periodically irked conservatives over the years but also spent recent years trying to win those conservative constituents back.

South Carolina does not get polled often, but Public Policy Polling found this month that 47 percent have a favorable opinion of Tim Scott, only 13 percent unfavorable, and 40 percent unsure.

UPDATE: I’m hearing that DeMint is likely to formally resign the Senate on Jan. 2 and that Scott, along with all of the other new senators who were elected in November, will be sworn in on Jan. 3.

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