Haleys most logical replacement for DeMint: Haley
BY KAREN FLOYD
Jim DeMint’s announcement Thursday that he will leave the U.S. Senate to head the Heritage Foundation left many loyal activists feeling a profound loss. He is an icon amongst both South Carolina’s grass-roots Republicans and the Tea Party, commanding standing ovations at his every appearance.
For many outside this foray, Sen. DeMint’s departure leaves them simply pondering not just why, but who will be his appointed replacement.
This is South Carolina, where politics can turn on a dime, and the rule is, “There are no rules”.
Rumors are rampant; the three names most touted to fill Sen. DeMint’s seat are Congressman Tim Scott, former S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster and Gov. Nikki Haley.
There are common-sense reasons for these particular individuals to be named, beginning with Rep. Tim Scott, who has experienced a meteoric ascent in his congressional tenure. It is also well known that Sen. DeMint and the congressman have a special bond.
Then there is former Attorney General McMaster, who has for decades served South Carolina and is known as a true statesman. He has been loyal to the governor, immediately placing his support behind her in the primary runoff.
Conventional wisdom has it, however, that the one person central to the mechanics of replacing the senator may be the best person to serve in this role — Gov. Nikki Haley herself.
There are many reasons why Gov. Haley is “the top pick,” but they can be boiled down to three basics: Gov. Haley has national standing and persona, women in the Republican Party are significantly underrepresented in Congress and she is ripe for the national stage.
Lest we forget, it was Gov. Haley who was selected as the prime-time speaker on the evening of Ann Romney’s Republican Convention address. The governor delivered an electrifying speech about her own background and small business experience.
For the past year, we have seen Gov. Haley draw national attention and campaign across the country for Mitt Romney. Moreover, because South Carolina is a legislature-driven state, being the governor is often a role difficult to navigate.
While a historic number of women sit in the U.S. Senate, the Republican Party claims only four. Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Olympia Snowe chose not to run for re-election.
Juxtapose this to the Democrat Party, which will have four new senators join their ranks with thirteen sitting senators winning reelection. There will be a plethora of Democratic women to draw from to create a strong diverse ticket in 2016.
America is primed for Gov. Haley, and she is ready for the national stage. Two thousand and twelve was a year of firsts, and should Gov. Haley choose to replace Sen. DeMint with herself, she would be the first Indian-American senator.
Putting diversity aside, Gov. Haley is prepared. In this bare-knuckled state she has proven that she can play political hardball.
Any woman, any politician really, who can emerge from the state of South Carolina and command attention in the national spotlight is an untouchable asset. She has the tenacity and the acumen to hold her own in the original Old Boys Club, just as she has over the past decade in the Palmetto State.
Sen. DeMint’s colleague Sen. Lindsey Graham has said, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
All of this makes too much sense.
Remember, this is South Carolina where we should expect the unexpected.
Karen Floyd, chair of the South Carolina Republican Party from 2009-11, is CEO of The Palladian Group and publisher of Palladian View, a digital magazine for conservative Republican women.