Rumors are rampant about Sen. Jim DeMint’s replacement after his announcement that he will leave the Senate to head the Heritage Foundation. This is South Carolina, where politics can turn on a dime, and the rule is, “There are no rules”.
Conventional wisdom has it that the one person central to the mechanics of replacing the senator is the best person to serve in this role - Gov. Nikki Haley herself. There are three primary reasons: Gov. Haley has national standing and persona, women in the Republican Party are significantly underrepresented in Congress and she is ripe for the national stage.
Lest we forget, it was Haley who was selected prime-time speaker on the evening of Ann Romney’s address when she delivered an electrifying speech about her own background and small business experience. For the past year, we have seen Haley draw national attention and campaign across the country for Gov. Romney.
While there is an historic number of women sitting in the U.S. Senate, the Republican Party claims only four. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Sen. Olympia Snowe chose not to run for reelection. Juxtapose this with the Democratic Party, which will have four new senators join their ranks with 13 sitting senators winning reelection. There will be a plethora of Democratic women to draw from to create a strong diverse ticket in 2016.
America is primed for Haley and she is ready for the national stage. 2012 was a year of firsts and should Haley choose to nominate herself, she would be the first Indian-American Senator. Putting diversity aside, Haley is prepared. In this bare-knuckled state she has proven that she can play political hardball. Any woman, any politician really, that can emerge from the state of South Carolina and command attention in the national spotlight is an untouchable asset.
DeMint’s colleague Sen. Graham has said, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
But, all of this makes too much sense. Remember, this is South Carolina where we should expect the unexpected.