Haley will not appoint placeholder to DeMint seat

ashain@thestate.comDecember 10, 2012 

SC Governor Nikki Haley

THE STATE

Gov. Nikki Haley will appoint a someone to replace resigning U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint who can run in a special election in 2014 for the final two years of his term -- not a placeholder.

Haley said Monday she did not want to choose someone who would not seek the seat after starting to serve in January when DeMint leaves to head the Heritage Foundation.

“While there are some good arguments in favor of that (placeholder) approach, I believe the better case is against it,” Haley said in a statement. “I do not want to tie the next U.S. Senator from South Carolina's hands regarding future office. I do not want to deprive our state’s citizens of the chance to render their judgment on the appointee’s performance by way of their vote.

“Most importantly, while I am an avid supporter of term limits, I do not want the effectiveness of our state’s new U.S. Senator to be undermined by the fact that he or she will automatically be leaving the office such a very short time after assuming it,” she said. “I believe South Carolina will be best served by a U.S. Senator who will work hard day in and day out, and put him or herself before the voters at the soonest possible time.”

Haley’s decision appears to open the door for U.S. Rep. Tim Scott -- whom DeMint reportedly favored when he announced his resignation last week. If appointed, Scott would be the first black U.S. senator from the South since Reconstruction.

Other candidates include U.S. Reps. Mick Mulvaney and Trey Gowdy -- who like Scott, won second terms to Congress in November.

Haley's announcement could end hopes for former S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster, who was the presumed frontrunner as a placeholder.

McMaster, who backed Haley after losing to her in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary, declined comment over the weekend and could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins also was mentioned in political circles as a placeholder.

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