Haley names Tim Scott as DeMint's successor
December 17th, 2012
12:50 PM ET
10 years ago

Haley names Tim Scott as DeMint's successor

(CNN) – Saying she was "convinced…he was the right U.S. senator for our state and for our country," Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina announced Monday she was appointing GOP Rep. Tim Scott as Sen. Jim DeMint's successor.

Speaking at the South Carolina state house in Columbia, Haley said the conservative Republican had "earned the seat" by virtue of his personality and record. Scott will become the Senate's only African-American member and the GOP's second African-American senator since Reconstruction.

DeMint announced earlier this month he would resign from his Senate seat by January 1 to lead The Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative think tank in Washington. Scott will fill the Senate spot until a special election takes place in November 2014, with the winner of that contest serving the remaining two years of DeMint's second term.

On Monday, Scott said he was grateful for God and for his mother, who raised him alone while working 16-hour days, and who he said "believed that sometimes love has to come at the end of a switch."

"And she loved me a lot," Scott said, adding she helped him build "strength and understanding" through her hard work and dedication to her children.

Haley's shortlist of contenders included Scott, along with 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.

In the days following DeMint's announcement, the GOP governor also jokingly hit back against comedian Stephen Colbert, who expressed interest in running for the seat in his native state.

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

DeMint said Monday he has been inspired by Scott since the first time he saw him speak in public, and that the country "needs those voices to encourage people there is a way out of quagmire we're in."

"Thank you for being willing to do this," DeMint said.

National tea party groups also approved of the choice - the Tea Party Patriots wrote Scott "has taken our core values seriously in the House and we have every reason to expect similar, principled behavior in the Senate."

In the days before making her selection, Haley said she would not consider a "placeholder" senator who would pledge to only hold the office until the special election, and on Monday Scott said he was looking forward to traveling the state ahead of the 2014 election to meet new constituents.

"The future is incredibly bright for America," Scott said. "We have our challenges, we have our things that we have to overcome. But boy does the future look great in South Carolina."

DeMint, a kingmaker among conservatives, is highly influential and well-beloved in the tea party movement, and has been a thorn in the side of establishment Republicans. In 2009, he was the first to endorse Marco Rubio of Florida in his 2010 Senate bid, at the time that the National Republican Senatorial Committee was backing Florida Gov. Charlie Christ.

He was also a powerhouse in the 2012 election. He held a highly-sought endorsement in congressional races and used his super PAC, Senate Conservatives Fund, to back tea party favorites in GOP primaries. Among his picks were successful Senate newcomers Ted Cruz of Texas, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Debbie Fischer of Nebraska.

"I know I'm leaving the Senate better than I found it with some real leaders," DeMint said, referring to his role in "stocking the Senate with solid conservatives."

- CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Sam Feist, Mark Preston, Kevin Liptak and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Jim DeMint • Nikki Haley • Senate • South Carolina
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Ah. finally. Gov. Haley will reveal to the rest of us just who DeMint's hand picked replacement will be.

    December 17, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  2. onlyfacts

    I have no doubt this new Republican Senator will be just as DIMENT-ED as the last one.

    December 17, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  3. John

    Who care It Mostly be a TEA PARTY Nut any way !

    December 17, 2012 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  4. Just a thought

    Let me guess....An NRA supportin', science denyin', Evangelical/Tea fool. Just what the congress needs.

    December 17, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  5. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Coming from SC, this will be another fanatical, extremist neo-con. This state has a history of extremism and traits of neo-fascism.

    December 17, 2012 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    One thing is for certain, and that is that I couldn't possiby care any less about this.

    December 17, 2012 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  7. Larry from Virginia

    Jim De Mint is leaving the Senate with the largest PAC war chest in the Senate. Where is that untaxable money going after he leaves?

    December 17, 2012 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  8. El Flaco

    It doesn't matter whom she appoints. All Conservatives are alike. They think alike, speak alike, and vote in a bloc.

    There are no individuals in Conservatism. They are as interchangeable as light bulbs.

    December 17, 2012 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  9. GOP = Greed Over People

    Today, politics and the fiscal cliff seem very small and very petty..

    December 17, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  10. timtimcharoo

    "He was also a powerhouse in the 2012 election"

    Didn't most of his guys lose?

    December 17, 2012 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  11. dax

    hmm this is bad O_o The American train is about to come off the tracks ;(

    December 17, 2012 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  12. GAVoter

    So is the GOP now not racist because they'll have the only black Senator in Congress?

    December 17, 2012 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  13. DDW

    Who cares, nothing will change

    December 17, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  14. Dan

    "Certainly I feel like I'm the tip of the arrow at times because certainly the national media wants to talk about the fact that I'm a black Republican and some people think of that as zany that a black person would be a conservative but to me what is zany is any person black, white, red, brown or yellow not being a conservative."

    Now in the US Senate, Republicans have more Latinos & African Americans then the liberal "diverse" democrat party. How do you like dem apples?

    December 17, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  15. Prosperid

    I live in SC. Trust me he is a perfect example of someone who has priorities screwed up. $$ over the best interest of the
    people. He is taking advantage of the tea party so-called diversity image. I find it hard to believe that he believes the tea party garbage coming out of his month.

    December 17, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. bucman

    Familiar with Clarence Thomas? Scott makes him look like a liberal.

    December 17, 2012 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  17. The Real Tom Paine

    Scott is nothing more than an insurance policy for the Right; too bad the coverage he provides is as about as valuable as Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are for Hispanics.

    December 17, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  18. CarolinaGirl

    Haley chose Tim Scott because he is a die hard tea party member and the fact he is black just makes it look like the GOP'S are for all minorities. BALONEY!!!!!!!

    December 17, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  19. qfCNN

    "I know I'm leaving the Senate better than I found it with some real leaders," DeMint said, referring to his role in "stocking the Senate with solid conservatives."


    December 17, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  20. dscon

    At least hillary is a "stand up" politician.

    December 17, 2012 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  21. The Backward South

    The South in general in this country is as backward as the thinking of some people who brought forth The Inquisition. Why the South is this way one can only wonder? The East, The West, even The North and other areas are Light Years AHEAD of the South but the South continues to walk at snail-pace in So Many important matters the Northeast has already conquered. It would be good for them to at least catch up to turtle-pace at this point but They Just Won't Do It! That's the South for you. Backward, Prejudiced Against Basic Human Rights for all, Far Right-Wingers. Go figure!

    December 17, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  22. Thomas

    Tim Scott or Rick Scott , the same product , deferent packaging !

    December 17, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  23. nowheremane

    Dear Dan, How do I like dem apples? Means nothing. But it's nice to see the GOP finally embracing affirmative action.

    December 17, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  24. tony

    I like the earlier question about what will happen to De Mint's large positive balance of election donations. And what TAX rate he'll pay if if he gets to keep it.

    December 17, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  25. Facts don't Lie

    you ever notice when the right or GOP is challenged on their lack of diversity they will come up with a person of color or a female and stick them out there? Mike Steele comes to mind when Obama was elected.....the Speaker appointed a woman to head one of the committees they try to unload Marco Rubio to make the Latinos fell better and now this guy. I guess if FoxNews and Rush Limbaugh approve then he's in like Flint. Bet nobody asks him for his birth certificate though.

    December 17, 2012 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
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