COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley’s short list to fill the U.S. Senate seat of the retiring Jim DeMint is down to five, including three from the Lowcountry, a source confirmed Tuesday.
The (unofficial) list
Tim Scott: Many observers say the 1st District congressman is the front-runner for the U.S. Senate appointment. He lives in North Charleston, served more than a decade on Charleston County Council, then two years in the state House of Representatives before getting elected to Congress in 2010. He is set to be the only black Republican in the 113th Congress, and recently won appointment to the House Ways and Means Committee.Jenny Sanford: The ex-wife of former Gov. Mark Sanford played an active role in his campaigns. Her handling of his infidelity in 2009 raised her national profile. She lives on Sullivan’s Island.Catherine Templeton: The Mount Pleasant lawyer was appointed by a newly elected Gov. Nikki Haley in 2010 to direct the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. In April, Haley appointed her to take the reins at a higher-profile agency, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.Trey Gowdy: A former federal prosecutor and 7th District solicitor, he was elected to the 4th District seat (in the Upstate) at the same time as Scott. He serves on the Committee on Judiciary, the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and the Committee on Education and the Workforce.Henry McMaster: The Columbia lawyer served as chairman of the South Carolina GOP and later as the S.C. attorney general. McMaster challenged Haley for governor in 2010, but quickly threw his support behind her after her primary win.
The finalists are 1st District Rep. Tim Scott, 4th District Rep. Trey Gowdy, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Catherine Templeton, former South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford and former S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster.
Scott, Templeton and Sanford live in the Charleston area. When asked about the names during a stop at Boeing’s North Charleston plant Tuesday, Haley declined to confirm them as finalists.
“Only my husband knows what’s in my head right now, so I’ll leave it at that,” she said.
Haley’s comments came less than an hour after CNN first released the short list, which The Post and Courier confirmed through its own source close to the governor.
All five indicated they would be interested in serving, the source said.
Asked specifically about Jenny Sanford, she said, “I’m not going to answer (questions) on any individuals because then you get into a whole other situation. There are numerous good people who could hold this position. South Carolina is not limited on good people.”
Haley declined to give a timeframe as to when she will announce her decision, but implied that it would be soon, likely before Christmas. “I don’t want this to drag out,” she said. “I don’t think that is good for the people of South Carolina.”
During an event at Benefitfocus on Daniel Island, Haley said she was not meeting with Scott while in the Lowcountry Tuesday.
Asked to comment on the reports that Scott is the one, she said, “It’s just wrong.”
DeMint shocked many in the state last week when he announced that he will retire in January to head the Heritage Foundation.
State law says Haley should appoint someone to fill the seat until the next general election in 2014, when state voters will decide who will fill the final two years of the term.
Brendan Kearney contributed to this report. Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771 and Stephen Largen at 864-641-8172.