Nikki Haley: I won’t appoint a ‘placeholder’

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said Monday that she would not appoint a "placeholder" to fill the seat of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) when he leaves in January for the Heritage Foundation. 

The announcement bolsters speculation that Haley will appoint Rep. Tim Scott (R), a well-liked conservative with ambitions for higher office. 

"As I continue to consider the impending U.S. Senate vacancy, many have discussed the possibility of a 'placeholder' appointee who would pledge to serve for only two years and not seek election to the seat in 2014," Haley said. "While there are some good arguments in favor of that approach, I believe the better case is against it."

She said she didn't want to deprive voters of a chance to weigh in on the appointee, and she didn't want the new senator to lose clout while in office by serving such a short term. 

"I believe South Carolina will be best served by a U.S. Senator who will work hard day in and day out, and put him or herself before the voters at the soonest possible time," she concluded. "Accordingly, I reject the option of a 'placeholder.' "

The governor has previously announced that she will not appoint herself, nor will she run for the seat in 2014. Fueling the Scott rumors, Haley will hold a media availability Tuesday at the Boeing plant in North Charleston — his district. But her office says the trip has nothing to do with the Senate vacancy. 

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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