Gov. Nikki Haley hasn’t said who she plans to appoint to Jim DeMint’s Senate seat, but she has taken one name off the list — her own.
After DeMint surprised even the most plugged-in political operatives on Tuesday by announcing his resignation to run the Heritage Foundation, many speculated that Haley might appoint herself to DeMint’s seat instead of seeking reelection in 2014. However, Haley ruled out that option on Friday through her preferred method of communication — Facebook.
“I want to make two things clear from the outset,” Gov. Haley told her Facebook fans. “Number one, I will not take the appointment myself. Number two, I will appoint a person who has the same philosophy of government that Jim DeMint and I share. With all the challenges we face as a state and nation, it is essential that the next senator from South Carolina be dedicated to the principles that our state most values.”
Much of the speculation regarding the possibility of Haley appointing herself centered around the governor’s low approval rating, which remains in the 30s. Moving to the Senate, observers said, would allow Haley to jump onto the national stage without having to seek reelection back at home. However, any senator appointed by Gov. Haley would still have to face the 2014 special election — so taking the nomination herself would provide no real advantage politically.
DeMint is pushing for the appointment of U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, who would become just the second black Republican senator since Reconstruction. Haley is reportedly considering appointing state Board of Economic Advisors chair Chad Walldorf, who owns the Sticky Fingers chain of barbecue restaurants. In addition to being a major Haley donor, Walldorf has also donated thousands of dollars to the Club For Growth — the conservative activist group which is closely allied with DeMint.
Another name frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for the appointment is former attorney general Henry McMaster, who has been relatively quiet after losing the Republican nomination to Haley in 2010.
UPDATE: In a subsequent post, Gov. Haley also ruled out appointing Comedy Central satirist and South Carolina native Stephen Colbert, who has been the subject of a grassroots campaign for the Senate seat. Presumably she doesn’t want the competition for her 2016 presidential run, in case Colbert launches another campaign for President of the United States of South Carolina!