Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) has told state Republican officials that he wants Rep. Tim Scott to become his successor, according to a South Carolina Republican operative with knowledge of the conversations.

"Jim DeMint has said he wants Tim Scott -- period," the operative said. "The ball is in Governor Haley's court. Does she go with the status quo and appoint Scott? I think it would be hard not to."

But the operative, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about internal deliberations, said Haley also may appoint a placeholder -- two names under discussion are former attorney general Henry McMaster and former ambassador David Wilkins -- to serve until the 2014 election. That would set off what the operative called "a massive brawl" of a GOP primary for the open seat in two years.

Any handicapping about who the South Carolina governor will pick is prone to being wrong. But The Fix explains why Scott stands out.

Update, 1 p.m.:

Longtime DeMint aide Matt Hoskins has responded: "Senator DeMint does not have a favorite in terms of who replaces him. He knows Governor Haley will select someone good and trusts her to make that decision. Anyone who says differently doesn't know what they're taking about."