Senator Jim DeMint’s announcement early this morning that he will leave the Senate to head the Heritage Foundation left many loyal activists feeling a profound loss. He is an icon amongst both South Carolina’s grassroots Republicans and the Tea Party, commanding standing ovations at his every appearance. For many outside this foray, Senator DeMint’s departure leaves them simply pondering not just why, but who will be his appointed replacement.
This is South Carolina, where politics can turn on a dime, and the rule is, “There are no rules”.
Rumors are rampant; the three names most touted to fill Senator DeMint’s seat are Congressman Tim Scott, former Attorney General Henry McMaster, and Governor Nikki Haley, herself.
There are commonsense reasons for these particular individuals to be named beginning with Congressman Tim Scott, who has experienced a mercuric ascent in his congressional tenure. It is also well known that Senator DeMint and the Congressman have a special bond. Then there is former Attorney General McMaster who has for decades served South Carolina and is known as a true statesman. The General has been loyal to the Governor, immediately placing his support behind her in the primary run-off.
Conventional wisdom has it, however, that the one person central to the mechanics of replacing the Senator may be the best person to serve in this role—Governor Nikki Haley herself. There are many reasons why Governor Haley is “the top pick” but they can be boiled down to three basics: Governor Haley has national standing and persona, women in the Republican Party are significantly underrepresented in Congress and she is ripe for the national stage.