WASHINGTON — There is currently no timeline to confirm U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney as the next White House budget chief.
But that isn't stopping his fellow South Carolina Republicans from lining up to run for his congressional seat.
On Monday, State Rep. and Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope became the latest Republican to throw his hat in the ring to succeed Mulvaney, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget.
Pope, of Rock Hill, had been a declared candidate to run for governor in 2018. But Trump's unexpected election changed the political landscape in the Palmetto State considerably, most of all in terms of Henry McMaster's ascent to the governorship from the No. 2 post.
“I always believed that here in South Carolina was where I could best serve the people, but when God closes one door He often opens another,” Pope said in a statement.
Meanwhile, other Republicans waiting in the wings for a special election to succeed Mulvaney include State Rep. Ralph Norman of Rock Hill, attorney Kris Wampler and anti-Common Core activist Sheri Few.
Chad Connelly, a former GOP state party chairman for the Republican National Committee's director of faith engagement, has also been quietly lining up establishment support for a bid, but has not formally announced his candidacy.
On the Democratic side, Mulvaney's challenger in the 2016 general election, Fran Person, could try a second time to recapture the once-blue seat long held by U.S. Rep. John Spratt. S.C. Democrats are also said to be courting State Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell of Lancaster.
Though Republicans are announcing their intentions early to establish the field of contenders, they might have to wait a while before they can start officially campaigning. Mulvaney's nomination has not yet been added to the Senate calendar, which is already being bogged down with procedural votes from Democrats in retaliation against Trump's imposed travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries.
Mulvaney's confirmation is also not a done deal. While it's looking likely he will be confirmed, support appears to fall along party lines, meaning Republicans can't afford to lose many of their members to the Democratic opposition.
Members are concerned about the thousands of dollars in payroll taxes Mulvaney failed to pay in the early 2000s relating to childcare services for his triplets. Defense hawks like U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., are also wary of his record of disapproving military spending.