First on CNN: Haley finalizes short list for DeMint seat
December 11th, 2012
11:34 AM ET
10 years ago

First on CNN: Haley finalizes short list for DeMint seat

Washington (CNN) - South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has whittled down the list of people she is considering for Jim DeMint's soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat to five people, a Republican close to the governor told CNN on Tuesday.

Her final choices for the seat are Rep. Tim Scott, Rep. Trey Gowdy, former state Attorney General Henry McMaster, former South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford and Catherine Templeton, a conservative attorney chosen by Haley to head the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

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One thing they have in common: a warm personal relationship with the governor, who is known to prize loyalty.

"All of them have proven to be fighters in their lives and Nikki respects that and likes them all," the GOP source said. "She respects their service and thinks any of them will make a great senator."

Two of the names on the list - Scott and McMaster - have been circulating since DeMint announced last week he was leaving the Senate to take over the conservative Heritage Foundation. Scott has emerged as a favorite of national grassroots conservatives, while McMaster would bring an establishment, elder statesman bearing to the seat.

The other three Republicans are wild cards.

Sanford would bring an instant celebrity profile to the Senate and would almost certainly unleash a torrent of media attention. Aside from a national book tour, she has kept a low profile since weathering a storm of scandal in 2009, when her husband, then-Gov. Mark Sanford, disappeared from the state to visit his girlfriend in Argentina.

But she always wielded a muscular political hand behind the scenes during her husband's campaigns and his time in the governor's mansion. Her name frequently surfaces in discussions about future candidates for the lowcountry House seat currently held by Scott.

Gowdy, like Scott, is a member of the state's conservative congressional delegation that DeMint frequently praises in his speeches. He represents the conservative 4th District, which encompasses Greenville and Spartanburg.

Templeton has held two high-level government positions in the Haley administration and has grown close to the governor in the process. A Charleston-area attorney, she has clashed with organized labor both in private practice and in her state positions.

All of the potential appointees "expressed interest" in the seat when contacted by the governor's office, the source close to Haley said.

As for the timing of the pick: "What this means is that she's getting close to a decision, and winnowing down the process, and we should see one sooner rather than later."

Notably absent from the list is Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who boasted to Politico earlier this week that he was "obviously" being considered for the DeMint seat despite a history of tension between him and the governor.

On Monday, Haley ruled out appointing a "placeholder" senator who would fill the position temporarily and then return home, meaning that whomever she appoints will have a green light to run for the seat in the 2014 special election.

Filed under: Jim DeMint • Nikki Haley • Senate • South Carolina • Tim Scott
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Lynda/Minnesota

    I'm fairly certain we all got past the "Nikki Haley Is Reaching A Decision" article yesterday, CNN. No need to continue keeping her in the spotlight whilst she "agonizes" publicly on what needs to be done: i.e. pick someone to replace DeMint.

    December 11, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  2. Data Driven

    OMG, the suspense is killing.

    December 11, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. Rudy NYC

    We all know that Demint is the one making the choice. Haley is simply the mouthpiece to announce it.

    December 11, 2012 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  4. Sane in Maine

    Steven Cobert – The people's choice!

    December 11, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. Midwest Jeff

    Colbert FTW!

    December 11, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  6. Mark

    What about Stephen Colbert?

    December 11, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  7. Andrew

    Shameful that she left out the only true conservative in favor of crazy Republican Party hacks. I am referring of course to Stephen Colbert.

    December 11, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  8. Mike

    "One thing they have in common: a warm personal relationship with the governor, who is known to prize loyalty." Of course, she will reward all her crook friends! Common practice in SC.

    December 11, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. silver

    Nikki Haley is not going to make a decision on Jim DeMints seat for a while. She is getting too much out of eating up all this attention she is getting. Little does she know this will not improve her 38% approval rating with the people of SC

    December 11, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  10. Ken in MD

    Where's Stephen Colbert? Not on the short list? Darn!!!

    December 11, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. Aaron

    I agree... I want Colbert. If only because it'd make watching c-span worthwhile.

    December 11, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. Thomas


    Your right she's going to milk this for all she can , she's a teaparty debutant .

    December 11, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  13. Mort

    Gov. Nikki Haley just appoint someone that will rubber stamp the Tea Party Agenda.

    December 11, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  14. GI Joe

    Out In sourced Sara - from India.

    December 11, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  15. Keith G

    Like one of the SC Democrats said last year, Nikki Haley belongs in prison for life. She is one of the most evil, corrupt politicians in America. It really speaks very poorly of this country's justice system when someone like this is allowed to enjoy freedom, instead of spending the rest of their life behind bars.

    December 11, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  16. W.

    Sometimes I wonder if there is not a close, tight group of regressive primates that are in charge of a mysterious submarine with a vast assortment of unknown knobs that attract their attention, all the while trying to determine which ones to turn that will make the boat go up or down. No one has a clue. I suspect inbreeding, especially in southern states east of the Mississippi.

    December 11, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  17. Jocho Johnson

    Nimarata Randhawa should get the same treatment as Rod Blagojevich

    December 11, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  18. Perplexed

    Please no more 'charity' appointments for Mrs. Sanford. What her husband did was wrong but it does not merit giving her a Senate seat. Give it to someone that merits the appointment and can do the most good for South Carolina.

    December 11, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  19. reasonablebe

    hopefully she'll appoint someone who uinderstands 'compromise' and 'public good,' and is too grown up to take or encourage temper tantrums.

    December 11, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  20. JasonSC

    Really Keith G? Please enlighten us all with your wisdom and tell us for what? She's getting my vote again.

    December 11, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |