It has been 10 days since Jim DeMint announced that he was resigning his U.S. Senate seat. Yet despite expectations to the contrary, Gov. Nikki Haley still hasn’t named his successor.
That’s OK. She has good reason to be deliberate in making that crucial decision. And after all, the U.S. Senate long ago was hailed as “the world’s greatest deliberative body” — though in recent years it hasn’t lived up to the lofty billing.
But after assessing the Final Five being considered by the governor for that Senate appointment, we believe the right choice is 1st District Rep. Tim Scott.
He clearly qualifies on these important counts:
» S.C. voters re-elected Mr. DeMint by a large margin in 2010. Thus, his replacement should be a good match for the outgoing senator’s conservative philosophy. Rep. Scott fits the bill — and is in especially close agreement with Sen. DeMint on the long-overdue necessities of restraining runaway federal spending and reforming entitlement programs.
» Whoever replaces Mr. DeMint must operate in the political realm. But the governor’s finalists include two people who have never even run for office. South Carolina doesn’t need a senator who’s learning politics on that high-stakes job — or one who has never earned the voters’ approval.
Rep. Scott has ample experience in elective offices — and in winning them. He served 13 years on Charleston County Council and two in the S.C. House before being elected to the U.S. House in 2010. Last month, he won a second congressional term by a large margin.
» Our next senator will be a Republican, and thus a member of the chamber’s minority party. Rep. Scott, though a principled conservative, consistently worked well across party lines as County Council chairman to advance effective compromise solutions.
If Rep. Scott is Gov. Haley’s pick, he would make major news by becoming the lone black U.S. senator. Ronald Burris of Illinois, appointed to the Senate in 2009, was the last black senator. He replaced the last elected black senator — Barack Obama.
But Rep. Scott has already attracted plenty of national attention as the first black Republican from South Carolina elected to Congress since the 19th century.
He has handled the spotlight well, emerging as an effective advocate for conservative ideas — including the defining issue of restoring America’s fiscal viability.
Often described as “a rising star” in the GOP, Rep. Scott has impressed many of his colleagues in both parties during his first two years in Washington — just as he impressed so many others during his time on County Council and in the S.C. House.
Yes, promoting Rep. Scott to the Senate would require holding a special election to choose a new 1st District congressman.
Yes, Sen. DeMint should have fulfilled his implicit pledge to voters by serving out the final four years of his second term.
But now that Sen. DeMint is moving on to become president of the Heritage Foundation, the governor must appoint his replacement.
And the best person for that job is Tim Scott.