Sen. Jim DeMint (R) wants Rep. Tim Scott (R) to replace him in the Senate when he leaves the body next month, a South Carolina Republican official tells TPM.
DeMint announced Thursday that he will be leaving the Senate to take over the Heritage Foundation, opening up a seat that will be filled by Gov. Nikki Haley (R) ahead of a 2014 special election. According to the South Carolina source, DeMint wants Scott — a conservative African American congressman representing the First Congressional District who was just elected to his second term last month — to take over for him.
The move would mean the Senate seat would still be held by a prominent tea partier, the source said, and would also give Haley and the GOP a chance to make history.
“It would be historic for an Indian American governor from the Deep South to appoint an African American to the U.S. Senate,” the official said. “I think it’s highly unlikely she would appoint a placeholder. There are too many critical votes coming in the next 24 months. Scott and DeMint are lock step on the issues.”
“Scott is DeMint’s choice,” the source added.
South Carolina is dominated by Republicans, and the chance for an appointment to an open Senate seat could mean a lot of jockeying for Haley’s favor.
“All the Republicans who have trashed Nikki Haley now have to beg for her attention,” the source said.