The political question of the hour has become: Who will South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki R. Haley appoint to fill the open Senate seat held by resigning Sen. Jim DeMint?
There is a bevy of ambitious Republicans in the state, but a few names float to the top of the list. Conservative freshman Rep. Tim Scott, a favorite of the grass roots, is seen as a top contender. A number of GOP insiders in the state also mentioned Henry McMaster, the former state attorney general who ran against Haley in the 2010 gubernatorial primary but gave his strong support to her in the GOP runoff, campaigning for her around the state.
Scott issued a statement praising DeMint's commitment to conservative principles. "Looking forward, Governor Haley will now appoint a new Senator, and I know she will make the right choice both for South Carolina and the nation,” Scott said.
State Attorney General Alan Wilson and his father, GOP Rep. Joe Wilson, were both on most insiders' list of potential appointees. Also mentioned: former U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins, a longtime South Carolina politician.
Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., is also seen as a possibility. In a statement, the freshman Congressman said, "Senator DeMint has been a strong conservative voice, and he leaves big shoes to be filled. I have faith Governor Haley will appoint someone with the character, leadership, and conservatism Senator DeMint has provided South Carolinians for the past eight years."
And then, of course, there's also the possibility that Haley appoints herself.
The appointed senator will serve until the 2014 general election, according to state election officials. There will then be an election in 2014 to serve out the remaining two years of DeMint's term. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is also up for re-election in 2014, meaning South Carolina will hold two Senate elections this cycle.