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Haley not considering a 'placeholder' to replace DeMint

December 10, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. (J. Scott Applewhite / Associated…)

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, faced with finding a replacement following Sen. Jim DeMint’s sudden retirement, said Monday that she will not appoint a “placeholder appointee.” Talk of such an appointee, who would pledge to serve for just two years before the 2014 election, had been recently fueled by rumors that Haley was looking into barbecue chain magnate Chad Walldorf.

“While there are some good arguments in favor of that approach I believe the better case is against it,” Haley said in a statement. “I do not want to tie the next U.S. Senator for South Carolina’s hands regarding future office.”

“While I am an avid supporter of term limits, I do not want the effectiveness of our state’s new U.S. Senator to be undermined by the fact that he or she will automatically be leaving the office such a very short time after assuming it,” she added.

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DeMint, who had served in the Senate since 2004, was a prominent voice of tea party members during the 2010 midterm election and beyond, announced Thursday that he would be retiring in January.

Haley, who has dismissed chatter that she may appoint herself to the open seat, said Friday that she’s looking for “a person who has the same philosophy of government that Jim DeMint and I share.”

That philosophy is pointedly conservative with a particular bend toward the tea party. Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), also a tea party favorite, has been the focal point of speculation, and
Haley will notably be making an appearance at a Boeing facility in Scott’s district Tuesday.

Regardless of who Haley’s ideal replacement is, South Carolina voters are currently showing interest in a dark horse candidate – comedian Stephen Colbert. In a poll released Monday by Public Policy Polling, 20% prefer Colbert over traditional choices such as Scott and Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy.

And not to be left entirely out of the conversation, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who left his post following a bizarre disappearance and the uncovering of infidelities, has fueled speculation that he will eventually seek DeMint’s vacated seat.

“It’s not a ‘no,’ but it’s not a ‘yes,’” Sanford told the Wall Street Journal when asked about his possible candidacy.

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