Jim DeMint’s abrupt depature from the United States Senate yesterday is opening a door for Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC), a member of the 2010 Tea Party class.
While there are other names being floated as a potential replacement, it’s thought that DeMint, who resigned from the Senate to head the Heritage Foundation, wants South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to appoint Scott to succeed him:
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has made it known in South Carolina that he wants Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) to replace him in the Senate, two state Republican sources tell The Hill.
The sources, requesting anonymity to speak candidly, say Scott is DeMint’s preference for the seat, though the final decision will be Gov. Nikki Haley’s (R). She will appoint someone to serve in DeMint’s place after he officially resigns from the Senate to take over the conservative Heritage Foundation in January. An election for the seat will then be held in 2014 for the remaining two years of the term.
Haley and Scott have a good relationship, according to sources, though it’s unclear how willing she would be to listen to DeMint, who officially stayed neutral during her gubernatorial primary but quietly supported then-Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.) in the race.
A spokesman for DeMint denied that the senator has pushed Scott.
Some South Carolina conservatives have also launched a petition to encourage Haley to appoint Scott to the Senate. In an e-mail promoting the petition, organizers explain, “The decision Governor Haley will make on who she will appoint to Senator DeMint’s Senate seat will no doubt have enormous effect on our conservative movement in South Carolina and it is criticial to let your voice be heard!”
The organizers, who are unnamed, also included excerpts from articles that mention Scott’s conservative bonafides. It should also be noted that Scott was thought to be Sen. Lindsey Graham’s toughest potential primary opponent.
Politico noted this morning that Scott has an intriguing personal story, explaining how he “worked his way out of poverty to become a successful small-business man, local politician and eventual congressman.” Scott, who is an African-American, would also add some diversity in the Senate and, perhaps, a greater role in the Republican Party.