Last week, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint announced that he was retiring from the Senate in order to become head of the Heritage Foundation. Now it is up to Nikki Haley, Governor of the Palmetto State, to make an interim appointment to replace him. The choice is obvious: Tim Scott.
Tim Scott has an interesting biography, to say the least. He owned an insurance company in Charleston, South Carolina, when he was named co-chair of Strom Thurmond’s last Senate campaign. This baptism into politics led him to run for Charleston City Council in 1995. When he was elected, he became the first African-American Republican from South Carolina to be elected to any office since Reconstruction. Scott then decided to run for the House in 2010. In the GOP primary he faced and defeated Paul Thurmond, Strom’s son.
Scott represents the future of the Republican Party. He combines social and fiscal conservatism. He is an evangelical Christian who is also supported from the Club for Growth. He has been a leader of the Tea Party contingent that was initially elected to the House in 2010. Unlike some of his more well-known brethren, he prefers to enact useful policies than make attention-grabbing headlines.
A number of names of potential nominees have been floated since DeMint’s announcement. None of them would be better than Scott. The ex-Governor, Mark Sanford, who became nationally famous for trekking from the Appalachian Mountains to South America in search of true love, is said to be seeking the state. His ex-wife, Jenny Sanford, may also want the seat. Neither of them would be a better choice than Scott. Jenny could then run against Lindsey Graham in the primary later this year, and would presumably defeat the poodle.
Scott’s selection would signal that the GOP is open to everyone, regardless of a group’s voting propensity. Democrats depend on African-American support, but rarely choose one as a Senate nominee. It would also make clear than Nikki Haley is not beholden to the old power structure in the state, and make her a force to be reckoned with on the national political scene.