U.S. Rep. Tim Scott has been chosen by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to fill Jim DeMint’s Senate seat, making Scott the only African-American in the Senate and the first black Republican senator since Reconstruction.
Gov. Haley made the announcement Monday morning at the State House in an anointing ceremony attended by nearly all of the Palmetto State’s congressional delegation. DeMint, who had personally lobbied for Haley to choose Scott, called his successor “a principled leader [who] will make an outstanding senator for the people of the South Carolina and an important voice for conservatives across the nation.”
After the announcement, Scott wasted no time in preparing for the 2014 special election by sending a fundraising email to his supporters. “We must work together to stand up to the big spenders in Washington,” he said. “Will you join with me by donating what you can? I have set a goal of reaching 10,000 contributors in 48 hours and would appreciate your help.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Joe “You Lie” Wilson — whom Scott referred to as the “Scoutmaster” of South Carolina’s congressional delegation — posted a graphic offering his congratulations to Scott. Or, we should say, his “congratualtions”:
It’s worth noting that the governor didn’t actually have to appoint anyone at all. Though South Carolina is one of the few states which still lets its governor fill Senate vacancies, there’s nothing in the state law which requires it. Instead, Haley could simply call a special election herself and put the decision into the hands of voters.
Here’s the relevant sections of the U.S. Constitution and South Carolina law (emphasis added):
U.S. Constitution, Amendment 17: When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
SC law, Section 7-19-20: In case of a vacancy in the office of United States Senator from death, resignation or otherwise, the Governor may fill the place by appointment which shall be for the period of time intervening between the date of such appointment and January third following the next succeeding general election. But in the event any such vacancy shall occur less than one hundred days prior to any general election, the appointment shall be for the period of time intervening between the date of such appointment and January third following the second general election next succeeding. The Governor shall within five days after any such appointment order an election to be held in connection with and at the time of the general election immediately preceding the expiration date of such appointment if at the expiration of such appointment an unexpired term shall remain.