The Senate succession sweepstakes
As soon as the news hit Thursday that Sen. Jim DeMint was resigning, the wires began buzzing about possible replacements.
Rep. Tim Scott was immediately elevated to the top of the list, based on a report that Sen. DeMint had already urged Gov. Nikki Haley to pick the 1st District congressman his successor.
But Wesley Denton, a spokesman for Sen. DeMint, denied the accuracy of that statement: “Sen. DeMint has no favorites as our state has a deep bench of conservatives. This is Gov. Haley’s decision alone and he trusts her to make a great choice.”
At this point, the governor has only said, “I will appoint a person who has the same philosophy of government that Jim DeMint and I share.” (She has already rejected a flurry of Twitter pleas from fans of comedian Stephen Colbert, who grew up on James Island, that he become our next senator.)
Another recurring name was that of former Attorney General Henry McMaster, who lost to Gov. Haley in the 2010 Republican primary, then backed her in the runoff.
Also mentioned were David Wilkins, former S.C. House speaker and U.S. ambassador to Canada, who is highly regarded by the mainline GOP.
Gov. Haley took herself out of the running at the outset, though former state GOP Chairman Karen Floyd makes a strong case for her selection to the seat in an op-ed on our Commentary page today.
Under that scenario, Mrs. Haley would resign, and Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell would become governor, then appoint her to the vacancy. That notion would appeal to Mr. McConnell’s many Lowcountry supporters, who would be happy to see the longtime Senate leader take the state’s reins.
State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, also was mentioned, but he demurred, saying he would like to see 5th District Rep. Mick Mulvaney get the job.
“We’re struggling right now for the soul of the Republican party,” Sen. Davis told The Associated Press, adding that the governor should pick someone who “truly believes in individual liberty and smaller government.” Sen. Davis served as chief of staff to former Gov. Mark Sanford, who predictably enough has not been seriously mentioned as a candidate.
Also on the speculative list is Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Lexington, probably the governor’s closest ally in the Legislature. And state Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken, who leaves office in January, was mentioned as a possibility on Friday.
The Senate succession sweepstakes will continue to generate discussion and the list will keep getting longer before it gets shorter.
And then the list will get very short all of a sudden, as Gov. Haley makes her decision, possibly quite soon.