With rumors flying that she would name to the Senate anyone from former South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford to a ???caretaker??? who would serve only until the next election in 2014, Republican Gov. Nikki Haley Monday gave conservatives Rep. Tim Scott to fill the seat of soon-to-be former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). Scott, a hero to the ???tea party??? movement in the Palmetto State, is one of only two black Republicans in the House.
Just re-elected to his second term in the House, Scott (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 96 percent) will now become the first black Republican senator since Edward Brooke of Massachusetts (1966-78) and the first black GOPer from the Deep South to serve in the Senate since Reconstruction.
Most state political observers Human Events spoke to agreed that Haley???s move was a tactical one. Backed by Sarah Palin and much of the tea party movement, then-State Rep. Haley won a major upset over several well-known candidates in the Republican primary for governor two years ago. Since then, however, many tea partiers have complained that the governor has not pursued their smaller government agenda or appointed political allies to high positions.
So Haley, who is likely to face both a primary challenge and a stiff general election opponent in 2014, moved to shore up her ???right flank??? in naming Scott. He will next face the voters in 2014 in a special election to fill out the term of DeMint, who resigned earlier in December to become president of the Heritage Foundation.
But, as dramatic as Scott???s appointment is, it nonetheless creates other problems for the Republican Party. Coupled with the defeat of fellow GOP Rep. Allen West in Florida this year, Scott???s exodus from the House leaves it with no black Republicans. In addition, his pending resignation from the House will trigger a special election in the Charleston-based 1st District that Democrats will seriously contest.