A preview of DeMint’s possible replacements in the Senate

Senator Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) abrupt resignation opens a seat in the upper chamber for a Palmetto State Republican to win a huge promotion.

South Carolina election law gives the state’s governor, in this case Republican Nikki Haley, the ability to appoint someone to fill DeMint’s seat after he officially resigns in January for the next two years. A special election will be held in November 2014 to determine who will serve the the final two years of DeMint’s remaining four year term.

Senior South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is also up for reelection in 2014. DeMint’s resignation likely comes as good news to Graham, who was all but guaranteed to face a stiff primary in 2014 over his positions on issues such energy policy and immigration reform. Conservatives in the state could opt to put their focus on chasing DeMint’s seat in 2014 rather than ousting Graham.

Although now squashed by a member of DeMint’s staff, early reports surfaced that DeMint’s preferred successor is Representative Tim Scott.

Scott, a Tea Party Republican first elected to Congress in 2010, would be the first African-American Republican to serve in the Senate since Edward William Brooke III of Massachusetts left office in 1980. (The last African-American to serve in the Senate, Roland Burris of Illinois, left the Senate in 2010. He was appointed in 2009 to replace then-Senator Barack Obama after his election to President.)

In a statement released this morning, Scott commented that DeMint’s “commitment to conservative principles leaves a true legacy” and that he believes Governor Haley “will make the right choice both for South Carolina and the nation” in choosing DeMint’s replacement.

Scott is not the only House member believed to be interested in the seat. Fellow freshman Rep. Mick Mulvaney has long coveted a seat in Congress’ upper chamber, and was believed to consider running when DeMint left office in 2016.

“Senator DeMint has been a strong conservative voice, and he leaves big shoes to be filled…I am proud to have worked with Senator DeMint and I will continue to call him a friend and a mentor in the years to come,” Mulvaney said in a press release earlier today.

If either Scott or Mulvaney were to accept an appointment to serve in the Senate it would set off a special election for his seat in the House of Representatives.

Another possible option is for Governor Haley to appoint a placeholder rather than a long-term successor. According to The Hill some Republicans believe that Haley could choose former South Carolina GOP Chairman Katon Dawson, a close friend, to serve until the 2014 election.

“Being a U.S. Senator is something that’s very important that serves until 2014 – and then the people get to pick,” Dawson told The Hill earlier today. “We have a lot of conservative rock-stars in South Carolina. There is nobody who’s ever done politics who’d rule out serving the state.”

The Washington Post also names former Attorney General Henry McMaster and former Ambassador David Wilkins as others whom Haley can choose for the seat. McMaster ran for governor in 2010, but lost to Haley in the primary. After the primary, McMaster became a surrogate for Haley and helped raise money for her successful gubernatorial campaign. McMaster is also a former chair of the South Carolina Republican Party.

Another option would be for Haley to appoint herself to the seat. This would not be the first time this has happened in South Carolina. After Sen. Olin Johnston died in 1965, former South Carolina Gov. Donald Russell resigned from the governorship and his replacement, Gov. Robert McNair, appoint him to Johnston’s seat.
However, Haley said Thursday afternoon that she would not use her position of power to appoint herself. “That is not even not an option, not something I am considering at all,” she said on a South Carolina radio show.
Even so, if Haley opts to put a placeholder in the seat, she could still run in the 2014 special election. Haley is up for reelection in 2014 and could opt to run for the U.S. Senate instead of running for a second term as Governor.

Either way, the future of South Carolina’s representation in Washington now lies in the hands of one individual – Nikki Haley.

This piece has been updated to include additional information.

Francesca Chambers and Lauren Luxenburg contributed to this report.


Comments

Polititainment

Secret Service once threatened Mr. Met's life

Mr. Met sure has a lot of fans in New York. But the larger-than-life mascot definitely doesn't have one in the Secret Service, who threatened to shoot and kill him if he approached President Bill Clinton, according to a firsthand account.

Jill Biden on Joe: "I fell in love with the boys first"

Second Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden didn't marry Vice President Joe Biden for his sense of humor -- instead, she "fell in love" with his two sons first.

Joe Biden's first Instagram photo

Ladies and gentlemen of this great nation, rejoice! Vice President Joe Biden has joined Instagram -- and his first post is everything you ever dreamed it would be.

Celebrate Tax Day with this ditty

What better way to celebrate curse Tax Day than with a little toe-tapping, finger-snapping ditty that perfectly describes how we all feel about the Internal Revenue Service?

Joy Behar roasts Chris Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) may need some ice for a few burns he sustained from former "The View" host Joy Behar, as the comedian delivered an awkward roast of the 2016 presidential hopeful.

White House

Jay Carney: “Never been a more transparent administration”

Despite consistent objections by journalists that the White House overly restricts press access, Press Secretary Jay Carney believes that there has "never been a more transparent administration."

Jay Carney: Toughest interview for Obama in 2012 was with Jon Stewart

Give comedian Jon Stewart a gold star sticker. The host of The Daily Show was President Barack Obama's toughest interviewer during the 2012 election cycle, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Thursday.

The most powerful selfie in the world

Joe Biden — he's just like you, and he takes selfies, too.

Obama: Republicans a threat to the right to vote

President Barack Obama slammed Republicans on Friday for supporting voter identification law and labeled the GOP as a threat to the right to vote.

Republicans renew fight against Obamacare as Sebelius resigns

FOX NEWS -- Republicans responded to news of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' resignation from the Obama administration on Thursday with fresh calls to repeal the president's health care law.

Read more at FOX News.

Congress

Rep Black: GOP budget makes a path to a bright future

Our nation is $17.4 trillion in debt and out of control Washington spending has no end in sight. In fact, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that on our current trajectory we will return to $1 trillion annual budget deficits by the year 2022.

Cruz: Impeach Holder

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) pulled no punches when criticizing Attorney General Eric Holder on Thursday, as he called on Congress to impeach the Department of Justice head.

Pelosi: GOP not acting on immigration because of race

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) pulled the race card when speaking about Republicans' inaction in passing comprehensive immigration reform and said "race has something to do" with the GOP not bringing such legislation to the House floor.

House passes Ryan's budget plan

The House on Thursday passed a 10-year Republican spending plan drafted by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.

Read more at The Washington Examiner.

Harry Reid's Koch-fueled meltdown

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has been in a Koch-fueled rage, seizing moments left and right (mostly from the left) to bash Charles and David Koch.