With the surprise resignation of South Carolina US Senator Jim DeMint this week, there is high anticipation to see who Republican governor Nikki Haley will appoint to the vacant seat until 2014 when a special election will be held. While many people believe the front-runner is US Representative Tim Scott, there are a number of other names that may be considered for the appointment.
Tim Scott (US Representative, 1st District)
Not a tea party Republican per se, Scott did receive endorsements from Tea Party groups when he first ran for the US House in 2010. He is also seen as an appropriate ideological successor to DeMint.
As an African-American, Scott would immediately heighten the diversity of a party currently revising how it can better appeal to minorities.
Joe Wilson (US Representative, 2nd District)
Perhaps still best known for shouting “You lie!” at President Obama during a joint session of Congress, Wilson has served South Carolina in the US House since 2001. Wilson serves in a safe Republican district and regularly wins re-election with 60 percent of the vote or more.
Jeff Duncan (US Representative, 3rd District)
First elected to the US House in 2010, Duncan is a fiscal conservative and scored a 100% rating from the New American‘s Freedom Index for his “adherence to constitutional principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a traditional foreign policy of avoiding entanglements.”
Duncan is also one of many Republicans adamant in his opposition to UN ambassador Susan Rice’s potential elevation to secretary of state, describing her as “tainted” regarding her talking points about the attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012.
Trey Gowdy (US Representative, 4th District)
Before he was elected to the US House in 2010, Gowdy was a state attorney and a solicitor general. As a congressman, Gowdy has positioned himself as a strong conservative and has been obstinate in his opposition to the HHS mandate, the Obama administration’s position in the Fast and Furious scandal, and UN ambassador Susan Rice on Benghazi.
Mick Mulvaney (US Representative, 5th District)
Elected to the US House in 2010 after a pair of terms in the South Carolina legislature, Mulvaney serves on the Financial Services Committee and was one of the leaders of the “Cut, Cap, and Balance” option to avoid the fiscal cliff in the summer of 2011 that was rejected.
Tom Davis (South Carolina State Senator, 46th District)
Davis is a unique choice to fill DeMint’s seat because he already has grassroots support to run for the US Senate in 2014 – against Lindsey Graham.
A wrinkle of this appointment process is that, in 2014, South Carolinians will be voting for both of their US Senators: The special election needed because of DeMint’s resignation and the seat occupied by Graham, whose term is up.
Graham, who has taken a lot of heat for bucking conservative orthodoxy, is a candidate for a primary challenge. If Davis, a more doctrinaire conservative, is appointed to DeMint’s seat, it would effectively eliminate one of Graham’s potential competitors.
The same day DeMint announced his resignation, Sanford told the Wall Street Journal that he is not ruling out a return to politics.
At 52, Sanford is still young enough to continue a political career that already includes three terms in the US House and two terms as governor of South Carolina.
In office, Sanford established himself as a fiscal conservative for wanting an audit of how stimulus funds would be used and as a civil libertarian for his resistance to Real ID. Despite the torrent of negative attention he received on account of his 2009 extramarital affair, Sanford left office in 2011 with an approval rating of 55%.