With Sen. Jim DeMint on his way to take the reins at the Heritage Foundation, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is charged with selecting his replacement for the next two years. According to multiple sources, her pick is Rep. Tim Scott, who will be the only African-American Republican in Congress when the new sessions gavels in:
Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina has chosen Representative Tim Scott to replace Jim DeMint in the United States Senate, according to three Republican officials. The move will make Mr. Scott the first black senator from the South since the late 19th century. The governor will make the announcement at noon at the State House in Columbia. She began informing the roster of finalists on Monday morning about her decision to go with Mr. Scott, who was the preferred candidate of many conservative leaders and groups in Washington. Speaking on condition of anonymity, three Republican officials familiar with the process confirmed to The New York Times the decision to select Mr. Scott. Aides to the governor declined to comment before the noon announcement. Ms. Haley seriously considered a number of potential contenders, particularly Jenny Sanford, the ex-wife of former Gov. Mark Sanford, who had been supportive of Ms. Haley in her race two years ago. But in choosing Mr. Scott, she selected a senator with a strong conservative voting record during his two years in Congress.
This is an excellent choice. Scott is a strong and charismatic conservative who will be a welcome addition to the upper chamber. The Left fetishizes racial politics, so it will be interesting to see how they react to Haley's announcement. Scott will be the only black member of the US Senate, which has lacked any African-Americans since President-elect Obama resigned from the legislative body in 2008. Scott's ascension will also close a racially-charged circle in South Carolina politics. He symbolically defeated former segregationist Strom Thurmond's grandson in his 2010 Congressional primary, and will now occupy Thurmond's Senate seat itself. Remarkable. Jim Geraghty notes that in order to hang on to that seat, Scott may have to run twice in the next four years to secure a full term:
Scott will serve for two years, and then presumably run in a special election in 2014. If reelected, he would serve an additional two years (the remaining two years of the six-year term Jim DeMint was elected to in 2010) and then potentially run again for a full-six year term in 2016.
Jim DeMint was known for his very conservative credentials and voting record; Tim Scott will likely honor that legacy, as he boasts a lifetime ACU rating of 96. I'll leave you with two clips of the soon-to-be Senator in action. The first is his fiery floor speech in favor of repealing Obamacare over the summer; the second is Scott's brief address at the RNC in Tampa, in which he spoke about his upbringing and seranaded the president with the refrain from "Hit the Road, Jack:"
As the Times story above points out, Scott is the first Southern African-American Senator from either party since the 1800's. He is the fourth black Republican to serve in the chamber -- and the first since Sen. Edward W. Brooke of Massachusetts in the early 1970s. So for those liberals who are updating their identity politics scorecard, this development involves an Indian-American Republican governor in the South appointing an African-American Republican to the United States Senate. Much more importantly, it's a win/win for conservatism.
UPDATE - While we're on the topic of Senate vacancies, The Hill reports that a Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick may select Michael Dukakis as a placeholder Senator if John Kerry is nominated and confirmed as Secretary of State. Dukakis would hold the seat until the special election, which could very well feature the return of Scott Brown.
UPDATE II - Tea Party groups have been very receptive to the Tim Scott news. Here's an early statement of support from Tea Party Patriots' Jenny Beth Martin: “This is a positive step for the Tea Party Patriots and our principles of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets. Tim Scott has taken our core values seriously in the House and we have every reason to expect similar, principled behavior in the Senate.”
UPDATE III - Early movement in the race to replace Scott in Congress.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography