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Gov. Nikki Haley (R) announces selection of Rep. Tim Scott (R) to replace resigning Sen. Jim DeMint (R)
Gov. Nikki Haley announces Rep. Tim Scott will replace Sen. Jim DeMint
It's a done deal: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is naming Rep. Tim Scott to fill the seat of Sen. Jim DeMint, who earlier announced that he'd resign to take the helm of the Heritage Foundation in January. Scott was first elected to Congress in 2010, filling ex-Rep. Henry Brown's open seat, and just handily won re-election to a second term. From the moment of DeMint's announcement, Scott's name made the top of almost every list, so this move comes as little surprise.

And though DeMint never confirmed it, Scott was reportedly his first choice as well, and he'll also become the only African American in the Senate. While Scott hasn't been the iconoclast DeMint has (few could be), he's already put together a reliably conservative profile and should fit right in with the rest of the GOP caucus in upper chamber. For instance, he once said that if Barack Obama were to find a way to pay our nation's creditors without Congress lifting the debt ceiling, it would constitute an "impeachable offense." He's also extremely anti-union, sponsoring legislation to make families ineligible for food stamps if one member went on strike.

Because DeMint was just re-elected in 2010, Scott's appointment will only run through 2014, at which time he'd have to run again—for just the final two years of DeMint's term. Scott wouldn't have a chance to seek a full term until 2016, which means two elections in back-to-back cycles if he plans to stay in the Senate.

Before he even gets that far, though, Scott may have to contend with a Republican primary. Lots of eager up-and-comers who wanted this appointment for themselves may decide that Scott's not entitled to the seat and might try to challenge him. That may or may not be so easy, though, depending on how extensively the establishment rallies around Scott, and whether he can avoid screwing up once he's elevated to a much more prominent role. (At least one snubbed colleague of Scott's, however, has said he won't run in such a primary: Rep. Mick Mulvaney.)

Haley's decision will also kick off a special election in Scott's 1st Congressional District, a very conservative seat along the South Carolina coast that voted for Mitt Romney by a 58-40 margin last month. Consequently, most of the action to replace Scott will happen on the GOP side, and the Charleston Post and Courier lays out a long list of possible contenders. For Democrats, 2008 nominee Linda Ketner (who lost by only two points) might be our best hope for making this one competitive. The timing of the special hinges largely on when Scott resigns, but if things go as planned, a May election looks likely.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:16 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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