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. Willie Floyd

    As a native S. Carolinian and current resident, believe it or not, all of us do not agree with anything "Trikki Nikki" says or does. We Dems continue to put forth every effort to reach the pace with other parts of the country. Pray for us-please!

    December 17, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  2. PtBarnumBoy

    Gee, what a surprise.

    December 17, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. Thomasjeff1776

    This just in: Jamie Foxx just asked, 'how black is that?'

    Espn wonders what is his issue being a republican.

    December 17, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  4. AE

    I have no doubts Nicki & Jim thought this out well before he made his announcement (illegal I think) Hopefully the citizens will rally and get rid Scott in a fair election...Good Luck to you Willie

    December 17, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  5. ExTeaParty-r

    Wonderful chocie . . . for the Democrats!!!!

    Tricky Nikki has guaranteed that the GOP and Tim Scott will lose that seat in 2014!!!

    December 17, 2012 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  6. Martin Angell

    This is actually a great choice because he supports cutting government spending which is completely out of control and unsustainable and will bring about the end of America. $16 trillion and counting...have we lost our minds?? Let's put someone in there who can reduce spending and stop the financial bleeding.

    December 17, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Wonderful chocie . . . for the Democrats!!!!
    Excepat that you have some Democraps, as I like to call them, that aren't worth two nickles their darn selves!
    I want real patriotic Americans in that seat I don't care what Party they belong to. I want them to remember whom they serve, what flag, and what civil service and common decency mean. I want them to think twice before they approve a defense budget but haggle over spending money right here at home. I want them to send Norquist and his freaking pledges off of the proverbial cliff.
    Is that too much to ask?

    December 17, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  8. Rosslaw

    Great idea to help balance the budget and cut spending. The federal government will not send one penny over and above the revenue sent in by the typically high poverty level, high unemployment, education deprived, morbidly obese red states like South Carolina. Budget solved.

    December 17, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  9. CryBabies

    Can't please you libs no matter what GOP does. My solution?........Get "loved".

    December 17, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  10. toni

    Haley has made the worst possible appointment for the worst possible time in our nation by, quite possibly, the worst possible Governor. WOW

    December 17, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  11. Thezel

    the financial cliff, if it kicked in, would slash the annual budget deficit by 1/2, this cliff is seen as an economic disaster to most economists. so what do you think removing the deficit would do???

    December 17, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  12. TonyInNYC

    Tim Scott now has the chance to show the nation what the Tea Party is all about.

    December 17, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  13. joe

    He will be the third AA senator. Edw. Brooke was the first since reconstruction

    December 17, 2012 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  14. Debbie

    I have given up on the old Republican party. After 35+ years the party has been taken over by the crazy TEA. I have also given up on the South to ever stop fighting the War against the states. As a new Independent I will vote IND or DEM. It's beyond belief. The party says out of one side of their mouth we need a bigger tent and then continues with the same old rigid, far right, facist, racist, gender moves. It is hopeless. The GOP in 2010 should have shut down and dumped the TEA to save the party.

    December 17, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  15. Mark

    Great choice for a Senator. anyone who has heard his story or know him personally knows he has very high morals and principles. He is a good man and the right man for the job. I'm a conservative and I do not support Gov Haley. She has, in this case, made the right decision and the best choice she could have made. I certainly hope the rest of the US will see Tim for the content of his character, his drive and will to do the right thing, ability to tell the truth even if it doesnt feel or sound good rather than judge him based on skin color or party affiliation.

    December 17, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  16. jennifer

    can we stop acting like the gop is stopping obama from doing his job. last i check the healthcare law was passed with a gop runned house. sorry we need more people to believe these lies

    December 17, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. Jesse

    Did they forget about Edward Brook of Mass?

    December 17, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  18. Sarge

    I sure hope he doesn't turn out to be a RINO like Graham. Especially with the communists from New York and California attempting to revoke the Second Amendment. Yes, whose heart doesn't sympathize with the victims, that includes the families and friends because they are all victims, of the horrible event at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday. Legislators will try to use a legislative answer for a spiritual problem. It will never work until we as individuals and a nation return to worshipping God instead of the many idols we have constructed.

    December 17, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  19. Rudy NYC


    can we stop acting like the gop is stopping obama from doing his job. last i check the healthcare law was passed with a gop runned house. sorry we need more people to believe these lies
    The ACA was passed when Democrats controlled the House. Are we supposed to believe that Republicans had actually brought the health care reform legislation to the floor for a vote, when they were actually against it? Right!

    Chalk up some more dead brain cells for the right wing media.

    December 17, 2012 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  20. FactCheck

    Tim Scott now has the chance to show the nation what the Tea Party is all about.

    Which, in short, means that he's going to take as much as he can get and then argue for individual rights.

    December 17, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  21. Ken in MD

    Oh good, another Tea Party lackey. So the real question is – who will replace him in 2014?

    December 17, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  22. DustyOnes

    Good choice.

    December 17, 2012 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  23. JohnRJohnson

    Meet the new Allen West.

    December 17, 2012 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  24. jo an

    IS this another Alan West??? OMG!

    December 17, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  25. jim


    And just how is it illegal?

    Just moreincoherent, bigoted and stupid baloney from the looney left.

    December 17, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
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