South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint surprised everyone last week when he announced his decision to resign from the Senate and become The Heritage Foundation’s new president. While it’s never good to lose a solid conservative vote in the Senate, I think it’s great that President Reagan’s favorite D.C. policy shop will now be run by such a prominent conservative.
Since 1977, The Heritage Foundation has been led by Ed Feulner, an icon among conservative activists and policy wonks but a relative unknown outside the conservative movement. Heritage, which The New York Times once described as “the Parthenon of the conservative metropolis,” will benefit from DeMint’s high profile in Washington and across the country. I expect the Heritage team to redouble their efforts to crank out innovative conservative policy solutions and expand the reach of their grassroots organization, Heritage Action for America.
The question is: Who will fill DeMint’s Senate seat?
It’s up to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to appoint DeMint’s successor. Fortunately for her, it should be an easy choice. Congressman Tim Scott should be the next U.S. senator from South Carolina. End of discussion.
For one thing, Rep. Scott is the kind of staunch conservative who would make DeMint proud. In fact, according to The Washington Post, DeMint has told South Carolina Republican officials he wants Scott to be his successor. Though DeMint has denied playing any role in the appointment process, my sources inside the Beltway say he has “sent the right signals” that Scott is indeed his preferred successor.
Scott would drive liberals absolutely insane by undermining their narrative that the GOP is a party of old white men. And as the only black senator from either party, he would immediately become a major figure in American politics. Imagine: the two brightest rising stars in the Senate would be a Spanish-speaking Cuban-American Republican from Florida and a black Republican from South Carolina.
I spent a good bit of time with Congressman Scott last year when he visited Alabama. He was remarkably down to earth. I came away convinced that Scott has the courage to take on the tough challenges facing America and the charisma to sell conservative ideas to the American people. He’s exactly what this country, not to mention the Republican Party, needs.
But Scott is far from a lock for the appointment. Insiders say that former South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster and former U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins are also on Governor Haley’s short list.
“I know [Governor Haley] will make the right choice both for South Carolina and the nation,” Scott said in a recent statement. And I’m sure she will. But just in case she’s not getting the message:
Governor Haley, on behalf of conservatives everywhere: Give us Tim Scott!
Cliff Sims is the founder and CEO of Yellowhammer Strategies, a communications consulting firm, and publisher of YellowhammerPolitics.com, Alabama’s leading conservative political blog.