Political Animal


December 11, 2012 2:28 PM Haley Muddies the Waters

By Ed Kilgore

It’s not every day a governor gets to place someone in the United States Senate, so I guess you can forgive Nikki Haley for milking as much publicity as she can from choice of a replacement for Jim DeMint.

But the “short list” she’s now put out simply draws more attention to the fact that she hasn’t already made the choice national conservatives are begging for, reportedly reflecting DeMint’s own wishes: Rep. Tim Scott, the African-American right-winger from Charleston.

Scott’s on the list, to be sure, but so, too are two women who sort of muddy the diversity waters: Jenny Sanford, the aggrieved former wife of the adulterous former Gov. Mark Sanford; and Catherine Templeton, the union-baiting former head of the state labor department who now runs the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Sanford is no token: an wealthy heiress and investment banker who was long considered her husband’s chief political strategist, she’s a force to be reckoned with in SC conservative politics, and has some close personal ties to Haley, though not as close as those possessed by Templeton, the living symbol of Haley’s signature hatred of unions.

Conspicuously missing from Haley’s list is Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who is probably more popular with serious Palmetto State wingnuts than Scott. But she does include another Tea Party favorite, Rep. Trey Gowdy, who is the only member of the list from the GOP-heavy upstate region. Former Attorney General Henry McMaster, who was originally thought to be a “placeholder” possibility, rounds out the list.

FWIW, Haley’s most prominent SC Republican critic, the well-connected if disreputable blogger Will Folks, rates Sanford the favorite. While passing over Scott would undoubtedly annoy the national conservative types who want him as a trophy, Sanford would probably be a very popular pick back home.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on December 11, 2012 2:53 PM:

    Whoever Nikki's pickee is, he or she is sure to be another rabid Dominionist Evangelical Chrisitan nut-job, a fluffer of Whoreporations, and an avowed enemy of progress.

  • Lance on December 11, 2012 3:23 PM:

    It may be that Haley wants to ensure that Lindsay Graham still has a viable conservative (read, Tea Party) primary challenge in 2014.

  • Jasperinboston on December 11, 2012 3:23 PM:

    If she's like most self-interested politicians, Haley's not going to put the party's wishes over her own political future. In other words, she'll likely attempt to minimize the chances of giving a career boost to a serious rival.

  • MuddyLee on December 11, 2012 3:32 PM:

    Mulvaney, like Paul Ryan, is a lover of Ayn Rand's fiction - so maybe he IS a favorite of the serious wingnuts, but SC republicans tend to be the types that will watch Fox News and listen to Rush, not actually read 1000 page books like Atlas Shrugged. That's why George Bush was very popular in SC and Mitt Romney was not - they figured Mitt probably read too many books. I would bet on Jenny Sanford - she is conservative and rich and was considered the brains behind Mark Sanford. Tim Scott may be the guy Jim DeMint likes, but he is also African American and this is South Carolina. They may be afraid that Scott will have trouble getting re-elected in SC.

  • Renai on December 11, 2012 4:43 PM:

    Lord, don't pick a woman...that paper plate committee chair is already taken.

  • Renai Deux on December 11, 2012 4:49 PM:

    Bound to happen, the Bible has gotten so passe; worshipping out of Atlas Shrugged is at least contemperary fiction.

  • bigtuna on December 11, 2012 5:33 PM:

    Isn't Trey Gowdy a moron?

  • mad_nVT on December 11, 2012 6:46 PM:

    Hey, I thought that Stephen Colbert would be on that short-list. He's the most popular choice of the public. With good reason.