Who might fill Sen. Jim DeMint’s seat?

The news just hit the wires and it surprised me. Conservative reformer Sen. Jim DeMint, R-SC, is resigning his seat, effective Jan. 1, to take over the helm of the Heritage Foundation.

“I’m leaving the Senate now, but I’m not leaving the fight. I’ve decided to join The Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas,” DeMint said in a statement.

First, kudos to the Heritage Foundation for getting new leadership. Nothing against them in particular. But as the Baseball Crank noted a few weeks ago, “if you were active in the movement in 1980, it might be time to take the gold watch.”

Gov. Nikki Haley, who is also a great conservative reformer, will get to appoint a replacement for DeMint. This appointee will serve until 2014. There will be a special election in 2014 to fill out the rest of the term (which will be two years). There will be another election for that seat in 2016, covering a full six-year term.

Governor Haley has several excellent candidates from which she could replace DeMint.

Rep. Mick Mulvaney

The first would be Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who CatholicVote endorsed in 2010. Mulvaney, a Catholic, was not expected to win. But he managed to unseat the powerful Budget Chairman John Spratt, one of the last remaining blue dog Democrats of the South.

Rep. Tim Gowdy

Another great candidate would be Rep. Trey Gowdy. CatholicVote fans might remember him for the excellent dismantling he did of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. In his questioning of her, we discovered that she hadn’t looked at the constitutionality of the HHS mandate. Go re-watch the video. It’s an amazing display of true Congressional oversight.

But my gut tells me that she’ll appoint Rep. Tim Scott. And that’s what sources are saying Jim DeMint recommended to her to do.

Rep. Tim Scott

Rep. Tim Scott is a favorite of the conservative Club for Growth. Scott is a solid conservative reformer and a Tea Party favorite.

And if Tim Scott were appointed, he would be the first black Republican to serve in the Senate since Sen. Edward Brooke, R-MA, in 1979. Such a move would add to the GOP’s growing diversity, much of which is due to the efforts of the Tea Party or other conservative insurgents like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. It’s the establishment GOP that keeps promoting the same retread candidates. By the way, Governor Haley herself is a Tea Party favorite and she is of Indian American descent.

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