Governor Haley Finalizes Shortlist of Candidates To Replace Senator DeMint

Daniel Doherty

12/11/2012 6:00:00 PM - Daniel Doherty

When South Carolina’s junior Senator Jim DeMint unexpectedly announced last week that he would resign to head the Heritage Foundation in January, many wondered who Governor Haley would appoint to fill his soon-to-be vacated seat. Apparently, a plurality of Palmetto State voters, according to a recent PPP poll, wants to see comedian Stephen Colbert in the upper chamber. But that’s highly unlikely for a number of different reasons, of course, but especially because he didn’t even make the governor’s shortlist:

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has finalized her shortlist of candidates to replace outgoing Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), according to a new report from CNN.

The list, which CNN says comes from a source close to Haley, includes five politicians who are close to Haley: Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), former state Attorney General Henry McMaster (R), former South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford (R) and Catherine Templeton, a conservative attorney Haley has picked to head the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

One name notably not on the list: Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.), who said last week he thought he was in the mix and sources say has been considering a Senate run.

The source said Haley's order of preference of the candidates is "still fluid."

CNN first reported the list in a story Haley refuted during a Tuesday afternoon press conference, according to local reports. She said only her husband knows who's on the list.

Scott has been the most buzzed-about name, and sources told The Hill last week that he is DeMint's preferred replacement. Sanford and McMaster were both major backers of Haley's gubernatorial run.

Governor Haley has stated publicly she will not appoint a “placeholder” -- that is to say, whomever she selects (if he or she so chooses) will be fully eligible to seek re-election in 2014. However, that appointee shouldn’t expect any help from his/her predecessor. Why? Because Senator DeMint -- in a recent interview -- told Politico that he will be “sitting on the sidelines” during the next election cycle:

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), the tea party leader who raised his profile taking on his party establishment in Senate primaries, will sit on the sidelines during the 2014 midterms when he becomes head of the Heritage Foundation.

"I am anxious to get away from the political angles, the partisan angles and focus on just the ideas," DeMint told POLITICO on Tuesday. "Hopefully candidates will embrace these ideas. But part of what we have to do is convince Americans that the ideas are right."

Asked if he would endorse candidates in primaries, DeMint flatly said: "No."