On Thursday, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) announced that he would be resigning his seat in January to take up the position of President at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative tank in Washington D.C.
The task of replacing the outspoken Tea Party lawmaker now falls to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who will appoint someone to the seat until a special election can be held in 2014.
Speculation is already swirling around a handful of names to fill the seat, so ThinkProgress has put together an early look at some of the possible candidates for the job:
Rep. Tim Scott
Several reports are identifying Scott as DeMint’s preferred choice to replace him, and for good reason: the freshman congressman has already proven to be nearly as extreme as DeMint himself. In 2011, he voted to extend billions of dollars in subsidies to big oil companies, arguing that taxpayer-funded money going to companies that reap billions in profits was “fair.” And during the last fight over the debt ceiling, Scott floated the possibility of introducing articles of impeachment against President Obama. While a State Representative, Scott helped to defund South Carolina’s entire HIV/AIDS programs, including the elimination of the state’s AIDs Drug Assistance Program.
Gov. Nikki Haley
She would not be the first Governor to appoint herself to the Senate, and would be well within her authority to do just that. Her approval ratings have remained low for years, trailing even President Obama by 10 points in the reliably red state and jeopardizing her chances of reelection in 2014. She has her own impressive track record of extreme comments and policy proposals, from denying the existence of any war on women to then perpetrating said war by vetoing half a million dollars in funding for abuse and rape prevention crisis centers throughout her state.
Former Attorney General Henry McMaster
McMaster served as South Carolina’s Attorney General for six years before launching a bid for the Governor’s mansion in 2009. He ran in the 2010 GOP primary against Haley, but dropped out of the race and endorsed her ahead of the runoff election in June of that year. As AG, McMaster was one of 16 Republican attorneys general to file suit against ObamaCare. He also cut a political video touting his role in the case, raising questions about whether he filed the frivolous suit — at a tremendous cost to the taxpayers — simply to benefit his own political ambitions.
State Sen. Tom Davis
He too is a tea party favorite, especially amongst Ron Paul supporters. Conservatives had been trying to convince Davis to challenge South Carolina’s other Senator Lindsey Graham in the 2014 GOP primary. Davis gave a speech at Paul’s rally in Tampa, Florida during the RNC in which he called Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke “a dictator and a traitor.”
Rep. Joe Wilson
With one outburst three years ago, Wilson became perhaps the most well-known congressman in the state. His unprecedented interruption of President Obama during the 2009 State of the Union address made him something of a hero for far-right extremists, and their impression of him has only been reinforced in the intervening years. Wilson is a longtime member of Sons of Confederate Veterans, a group with deep ties to white supremacists and other right-wing extremists. He was an outspoken defender of the confederate flag, and fought to keep it affixed atop the state capital building.