Former South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster has emerged as one of the leading candidates to replace outgoing Republican South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, who is leaving the Senate to head the Heritage Foundation next month.
According to the Pajamas Media, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who, by law, must appoint DeMint’s successor, has “reportedly already informed key South Carolina politicians of her decision” to appoint McMaster.
Haley on Friday said she would not appoint herself to the seat but would make an appointment “quickly.” A special election for a full six-year term will be held in 2014, and McMaster may be appointed as a placeholder, which would mean many of the state’s top young conservatives would enter the primary to win DeMint’s Senate seat in 2014.
Many conservatives — such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin — have suggested Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC), of Charleston, would be a great replacement, giving the party not only a conservative but the Senate’s only black Senator.
McMaster is less conservative than DeMint, but he has been instrumental in helping build South Carolina’s modern Republican Party as the party’s chair in the 1990s by “dislodging a number of more moderate party staff.” Ronald Reagan appointed McMaster to be a United States attorney for South Carolina.
McMaster ran against Haley in the 2010 South Carolina Republican gubernatorial primary and endorsed her during the contentious run-off election. During the 2012 presidential primary, McMaster endorsed Jon Huntsman, the former Utah Gov. and Ambassador to China under President Barack Obama.