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.