Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) will soon be promoted to Senator Tim Scott. South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced today that she will appoint Scott as the temporary replacement for Sen. Jim DeMint. DeMint shocked everyone when he resigned his seat to become the head of the Heritage Foundation. Once he takes office Scott will be the only African-American now serving in the United States Senate.
Scott will temporarily hold the seat until a special election takes place in November 2014 to fill the remainder of DeMint’s term. This means if Scott wants to retain the seat, and all indications are that he plans to, he will need to run in 2014 and again in 2016.
Both South Carolina senate seats will be on the ballot in 2014. This gives anyone in the state looking to advance their political career the option of taking on either Scott or Sen. Lindsay Graham (R). This could have interesting political ramifications. Scott is considered a tea-party favorite, so it would be hard for any would-be Republicans to get to his right in the primary. Scott being named as the temporarily replacement might make potential conservative Republican candidates think Graham would be easier to beat in a possible primary, but on the other hand, Democrats may see Scott as the easier general election opponent. At the very least this means Graham doesn’t need to worry about a potential primary challenge from Scott, who could have been a formidable primary opponent.
Scott’s record is very conservative. As a result Scott replacing DeMint is unlikely to make much of an impact on the ideological balance in the Senate.