There is no question that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has an important decision to make in who will succeed and finish the remainder of Jim DeMint’s term. However, there is an aspect to the appointment that hasn’t gotten much, if any, attention.
In 2010, Haley rode the Tea Party wave all the way to Columbia. Early on in her campaign, Erick Erickson wrote that Haley “gets checks in all the major boxes: life, tax cutting, government cutting, honesty, and uncompromising on the need to reform.”
“She is not afraid, even as an elected official, to criticize her own party for losing its way. That’s the type of candidate the Republicans need,” he added.
Unfortunately, Haley’s record in office has been disappointing. In her first year, Haley proposed the largest spending increase in state history (including federal funds). In its biannual Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors, which grades state executives on spending and taxes, the Cato Institute noted that Haley oversaw an 11% spending increase in just two fiscal years.
Haley’s next misstep was her endorsement of Mitt Romney last December. Romney was viewed by the grassroots as the quintessential establishment Republican. Reid Epstein of Politico noted at the time that Haley’s Facebook page ”lit up with accusations that the first-term governor was selling out her principles.” Not only that, Epstein also wrote that Rush Limbaugh, the famous conservative talk show host, “mocked the Haley endorsement, saying that it was more about her ambition than about conservative principles.”
Not only have her Tea Party roots come into question, Haley is suffering from a low approval rating. According to the most recent poll from Winthrop University, only 40% approve of Haley’s job performance. Just over 42% disapprove. It should be pointed out that, as low as these numbers are, Haley is actually doing better than she was in April.
While there is ere is no shortage of potential appointments, Haley could boost her national profile and go back to her anti-establishment roots in one fell swoop by appointing Rep. Tim Scott, a black conservative who is destined to have a great record.
Scott already has proven conservative bonafides, receiving solid scores from conservative groups — 96% from the American Conservative Union; 92% from the Club for Growth; 93% from FreedomWorks; and 84% from the National Taxpayers Union. More importantly, grassroots activists are keen on him.
While appointing Scott is not a panacea for Haley’s problems, it would be a positive that could be the beginning of a reaffirmation of the limited-limited government, freedom movement principles that propelled her into office in 2010.