If Tim Scott is appointed to fill South Carolina’s U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jim DeMint, it would set off a wide-open contest in the First congressional District early next year.

Unlike with the Senate vacancy, Gov. Nikki Haley would not appoint anyone to fill an empty Congressional seat, should she appoint Scott or another U.S. House member.

Instead, there would be a special election held about 18 weeks after the House member stepped down, State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said.

Less than 24 hours after DeMint stepped down —and with no guarantee Scott will take his place —at least two GOP hopefuls contacted Charleston County GOP chair Lin Bennett to express interest in running for Scott’s First District seat.

Bennett said she would expect a crowded contest. “When I look out on this crazy landscape, that’s kind of what I see: all kinds of scenarios,” she said.

Republican state Rep. Chip Limehouse of Charleston and Sen. Larry Grooms of Bonneau contacted Bennett, and she said Rep. Peter McCoy of James Island also may be looking at running.

Newly-elected Sen. Paul Thurmond came closest to Scott during the wide-open 2010 GOP primary, and he did not rule out another congressional run.

“I don’t want to start to speculate on what’s going to happen with Gov. Haley. She has a lot of good people to choose from,” Thurmond said. “If she chooses Tim Scott, who I think would do an excellent job, we’ll see what happens from there. I haven’t really given it a lot of thought.”

Read more in tomorrow’s Post and Courier.