Nikki Haley won’t appoint herself, won’t run in 2014

In a statement Friday morning, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) reaffirmed that she would absolutely not appoint herself to the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Jim DeMint. She pledged to appoint a fellow conservative to the seat, which DeMint will give up in January to run the Heritage Foundation. 

“I want to make two things clear from the outset. Number one, I will not take the appointment myself. Number two, I will appoint a person who has the same philosophy of government that Jim DeMint and I share," she said.

Haley was underscoring what she told a South Carolina radio station Thursday: appointing herself is not an option.

Whoever Haley appoints will serve until 2014, when a special election will be held in conjunction with the general contest. She will not run for the seat in that race either. "The governor will not run for Senate in 2014," spokesman Rob Godfrey said. "She loves the job she has."

She also promised not to drag things out: "I will make this decision in a manner that is thoughtful and dignified, but also quickly."

Opinion in the state is split on the governor, who took office in 2010 and has made enemies on both sides of the aisle. A recent Winthrop University poll found that 38 percent of South Carolina residents approve of the job she's doing while 41 percent disapprove. 

According to one South Carolina Republican operative, DeMint wants Haley to appoint the conservative Rep. Tim Scott, who would be the only black senator currently serving and the first black Republican senator since the 1970s. But a DeMint aide said Thursday that the senator is not playing favorites.

David Fahrenthold contributed to this report. 

Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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Rachel Weiner | December 7, 2012