Speculation is already flying on who could or will replace South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint. DeMint announced today that he is resigning in January and will be heading up the Heritage Foundation. The Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, is the appointing authority.
If there’s one thing you can count on in politics, it’s that an unexpected twist will come out of South Carolina. Sen. Jim DeMint‘s surprise announcement today that he’ll quit the Senate to run the Heritage Foundation is but the latest curveball to get Palmetto State politicos buzzing. It’s up to Gov. Nikki Haley to name DeMint’s replacement, and a quick canvass of our sources establishes a pretty solid list of early contenders.
The names we heard, in rough order of their chances:
Rep. Mick Mulvaney wants to be a senator. The second-term Republican, who knocked off Democrat John Spratt in 2010, has been seen as a likely statewide candidate even before he won office.
Former Attorney General Henry McMaster could play the role of caretaker before a successor is elected in a 2014 special election. McMaster lost to Haley in the 2010 gubernatorial primary, but he endorsed Haley in the runoff and the two have a good relationship (McMaster’s press secretary in 2010, Rob Godfrey, went to work for Haley and still works as her official press secretary).
State Rep. Nathan Ballentine was Haley’s closest confidante in the state House, at a time when she didn’t have a lot of allies. He’s the dark horse.
Rep. Tim Scott, another Republican first elected in 2010, would be the lone African American in the Senate if he’s elected. But our sources say Scott wants to be governor rather than a senator. CNN’s Peter Hamby, an expert on South Carolina Republican politics, agrees on that one.