South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced today that she won’t appoint a placeholder for Sen. Jim DeMint’s US Senate seat. Stephen Colbert is also out of luck.
DeMint is resigning to become head of the Heritage Foundation, an influential conservative think thank.
A placeholder would be a respected elder statesman who would only serve until the November 2014 special election and would not go for the job on a permanent basis. The lack of an incumbent in that scenario would prompt a contentious primary waged by a lot of ambitious South Carolina politicians.
In a statement today, Gov. Haley addressed the Senate vacancy:
“As I continue to consider the impending U.S. Senate vacancy, many have discussed the possibility of a ‘placeholder’ appointee who would pledge to serve for only two years and not seek election to the seat in 2014. While there are some good arguments in favor of that approach, I believe the better case is against it.
“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.
“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. Accordingly, I reject the option of a ‘placeholder.’ “
Gov. Haley, a Republican as is DeMint, also ruled out any possibility that Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central has a chance. She posted the following on Facebook:
“Stephen, thank you for your interest in South Carolina’s U.S. Senate seat and for
the thousands of tweets you and your fans sent me. But you forget one thing, my friend.
“You didn’t know our state drink. Big, big mistake.”
The buzz seems to be for Rep. Tim Scott, a conservative Republican and Tea Party favorite, who would be the only African American in the Senate if appointed.
Perhaps people are reading too much into this, but the governor has a news conference scheduled for tomorrow at a Boeing plant in Scott’s district in Charleston. The governor’s office says this is unrelated to the Senate vacancy.
Haley has promised that she will make a decision on the Senate vacancy quickly.