Report: Gov. Haley to Name Tim Scott to Senate Seat

8:53 AM, Dec 17, 2012   |    comments
U.S. Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) during the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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Catalina Camia, USA TODAY

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley reportedly will tap Rep. Tim Scott to replace outgoing GOP Sen. Jim DeMint, according to The New York Times.

Scott's appointment would be historic: He would be the first African American to represent South Carolina in the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction. The Times report cites Republican officials as the source.

DeMint is resigning in January to become president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. His replacement will serve until a special election is held in 2014.

Scott, 47, was elected in 2010 to represent a district in the Charleston area. A former member of the South Carolina state Legislature, Scott quickly became a favorite of House Speaker John Boehner and GOP officials in Washington and served in a leadership position for the 2010 freshman class.

He has a compelling life story. Scott and his siblings were raised by a single mother who worked as a nurse's assistant. By his own account, Scott was on the brink of flunking out of high school when the owner of a Chick-fil-A franchise took him under his wing.

State law gives Haley sole authority to appoint a replacement for DeMint, who was first elected in 2004 and is leaving before his second term ends in 2016. The appointment holds major political weight for Haley, who has low approval ratings and is up for re-election in 2014.

Haley reportedly had been considering five candidates: congressmen Scott and Trey Gowdy, both elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010; former first lady Jenny Sanford, former attorney general Henry McMaster and Catherine Templeton, head of the state Department of Health Environmental Control.

The appointment sets in motion a series of events, which will make 2014 a busy year for Palmetto State politics. Both Haley and Graham, the state's senior U.S. senator, are on the ballot in 2014.

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