Who will replace DeMint? Scott rises to top of list
December 6th, 2012
01:22 PM ET
6 years ago

Who will replace DeMint? Scott rises to top of list

Washington (CNN) - On the list of people who might be appointed to fill departing Sen. Jim DeMint's Senate seat, there's Rep. Tim Scott and everyone else.

DeMint announced Thursday he is leaving the Senate to take over the conservative Heritage Foundation, a decision that's shaking up carefully plotted lines of succession in South Carolina politics.

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Gov. Nikki Haley will now be tasked with appointing a replacement who will hold the seat until a special election can be held in 2014.

So why is Scott at the top of the list?

Haley has always kept her cards close to her chest and is not afraid to buck conventional wisdom. No one should presume to know what the governor is thinking.

But she will undoubtedly face pressure from the conservative movement that helped vault her to the governorship to appoint Scott, one of her party's brightest stars, and make history in the process. Scott would be the Senate's only African-American member and the GOP's second African-American senator since Reconstruction.

Also working in Scott's favor is the fact that DeMint holds South Carolina's conservative congressional delegation in very high regard – and DeMint's influence in Palmetto State GOP politics cannot be overstated or ignored.

DeMint has long viewed Scott, a former state legislator who was first elected in 2010 with the help of tea party activists and national conservative groups, as a rising star and protégé.

"A lot of Jim's supporters and people who have worked for him over the years would feel very comfortable about Tim Scott," said GOP fundraiser Barry Wynn, a friend and political ally of DeMint's. "If you look at his core of support, those who have supported him back to his House days, there is a general feeling of warmth and comfort for Tim Scott. There is a special feeling there."

DeMint has told a handful of confidantes that he would like to see Scott appointed to the seat, sources told CNN Thursday.

The senator's official staff in Washington is pushing back hard against that suggestion, in part because DeMint can't be seen as meddling in a process controlled by the governor.

"Senator DeMint has no favorites as our state has a deep bench of conservatives," said Wesley Denton, DeMint's spokesman in the Senate. "This is Governor Haley's decision alone and he trusts her to make a great choice."

If Haley does appoint someone from the South Carolina delegation, it's hard to imagine her passing over the state's lone African-American member of Congress.

Another South Carolina congressman with statewide ambitions, Rep. Mick Mulvaney, does not have an especially warm relationship with the governor.

Scott has designs on the South Carolina governorship and is thought to be eyeing a run for that seat in 2018. But even if that's the case, it would be hard to pass up the stature-elevating appointment to the United States Senate, which could position him for a gubernatorial bid down the road.

There's also the possibility that Haley could appoint a "caretaker" senator who would fill the seat but promise not to run in the 2014 special election.

That could open the door for Republicans like former state Attorney General Henry McMaster or former Ambassador David Wilkins, both establishment figures who are trusted by Haley.

Other names that surfaced Thursday in discussions about the appointment include Wynn, the DeMint ally and fundraiser, and state Sen. Greg Ryberg, a likeable figure in the state house who would be something of a dark horse.

Filed under: Jim DeMint • Senate • South Carolina • Tim Scott
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Laverne

    The republicans won't let her elect Tim Scott because they will be too scared Tim won't be as nasty, hateful and obstructionist as DeMint. It would be nice to see more diversity when it comes to race in the Senate. Oh well one can only hope!

    December 6, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Wake up People!

    Oh great another token Uncle Tom. Oh yeah, that's going to help you. NOT.

    December 6, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |

    Allen West 2.0

    No thanks!

    December 6, 2012 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  4. Yonni

    I just watched Tim Scott interview with Hannity and this guy is as lunatic as the rest of them.

    December 6, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  5. ACF

    How about Gresham Barrett as a dark horse candidate?

    December 6, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  6. Izquierdo

    Imagine, DeMint quitting the senate so he can bolster his "leadership" qualities. Maybe he'll learn at the Heritage Foundation what he didn't know as a senator, which is virtually everything. Tim Scott would make the Senate a better place, and DeMint would be twice rewarded. He could learn theory from the Foundation and practical matters from Scott.

    December 6, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  7. Jack in Florida

    One whack job gone, dozens more to go!!!!

    December 6, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  8. PaulCat

    Just what we need, another Allen West!

    December 6, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  9. Marie MD

    LOL! Another lunatic from the far right.

    December 6, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  10. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Nikki Haley aligned herself with the Tea Party, which have proven to be very unfavorable, so it will be very interesting to see who she'll pick. But you can bet she's really thinking about her own political future because she jumped on the wrong bandwagon that is jumping ship or have lost 2nd term elections and counting. Judgement is a factor when it comes to Haley.

    December 6, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  11. BobC

    I like the idea of appointing Tim Scott, based on DeMint's feelings and the reputation he has as a rock-solid conservative. However, I foresee the Democraps' first knee-jerk response: "The Republicans finally found a token
    black Senator. They're still racists." Sad, but true.

    December 6, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  12. miller

    Tim Scott is a good and decent man, a rarity in politics.

    December 6, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  13. Reggie from LA

    He won't stand a chance against Alvin Green!! Bwahaha

    December 6, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  14. LongtimeListenerFirstTimeCaller

    Greg Ryberg – a likeable figure in the state house?!? Which state house would that be Peter? That'll have folks laughing at the state house.

    December 6, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  15. Larry in Houston

    like : Micheal Steele – 2.0

    ""Scott would be the Senate's only African-American member and the GOP's second African-American senator since Reconstruction"""

    wow – the gop's 2nd one, huh ? guess it's going to take several years to finally get with the program. This isn't a "leave it to beaver" or Green Acres" country, y'know. To be perfectly honest – I have some faith in them ( at least a little) By 2024 their party will be up to date – we might be able to Finally get a Republican President by then – (again)

    December 6, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  16. Thomas

    Don King would be the best man to replace DeMint.

    December 6, 2012 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  17. Gregory M. Newbold

    I don`t know Tim Scott. It would be helpful for the national Republican Party IF Scott is a respectful,moderate, GOP`er that seekes to work across the aisle. Imagine the help that someone of the demeanor of Colin Powell would do for them in this national seat?

    I see comments aluding to Scott being like Allen West, the unemployed Congressman from Florida. I hope that regardless of his policy proclivities, Mr. Scott would exhibit the respect and honor that the President deserves. As a black man growing up in America, if we see anything else from him then we know he is mentally ill.

    December 6, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  18. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Whoever she chooses, they're bound to be radical.

    December 6, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  19. Kelby in Houston, TX

    DeMint must have represented the people of South Carolina well...they kept re-electing him.
    If this token is what the people of South Carolina want...give it to them

    December 6, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  20. Gurgyl

    How about John king????

    December 6, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  21. Drew Dennert

    Tom Davis would be a great choice for Gov. Haley

    December 6, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  22. Sandy

    Isn't this the guy that refused to joint the Black Caucuas?

    December 6, 2012 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  23. Squigman

    Another empty head, filling a seat that was empty to begin with. I'll bet they wish the empty chair routine at the convention could be forgotten, as easily as they're candidates are forgotten.

    December 6, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  24. Brivvy

    Tim was always a dear friend of mine, a mentor, and like a brother. He helped me see from a young age that being a black businessman was not a disadvantage on South Carolina...

    I helped him Campaign because he was pro prosperity and pro PEOPLE.... But as soon as he got to Congress, he changed.

    His views became radical to please his voters and he forgot about the PEOPLE. 😦

    Lost my respect for him.

    December 6, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  25. Mario

    Get your facts straight. Tim Scott is not the only African-American in the SC delegation. He might be the Uncle Tom of the group, but actually Black folk have someone we respect from SC in Congress...his name is Congressman James E. Clyburn, former Majority Whip. Nikki Haley (I refuse to call her Governor, since she constantly disrespects the POTUS) can't even lie straight when it came to the cyber security breach, so I know she will make a radical appointment. Tim Scott has a face only a MOTHER could love.

    December 6, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
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