South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced her replacement for U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint on Monday.
Haley announced at noon at the Statehouse that Rep. Tim Scott, R-Charleston, will take DeMint's empty seat in January. Scott, a tea party-backed conservative, will be the first African-American senator in the state's history.
State law gave the Republican governor the authority to pick DeMint's successor. DeMint announced less than two weeks ago that he would resign Jan. 1 to take the helm of a national conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation. Scott will take over on Jan. 3.
"It's been an honor to serve the people of South Carolina in [the] United States Senate for the past eight years," DeMint said earlier in December. "Now, it's time for me to pass the torch to someone else and take on a new role in the fight for America's future."
Upon Haley's announcement of Scott as her choice, he took the podium and after a moment of silence for Newtown, CT, Scott went on to say thank you for the opportunity to serve in the Senate.
Scott said he knows there is no way to fill DeMint's show but looks forward to serving South Carolina, including making a statement about the federal government's spending.
"We can take all the revenue from the top 2 percent and simply could not close the annual deficit," Scott said. He went on to say his top two priorities are tax reform and spending control.
"And Tim, I could not be happier today," DeMint said after Scott's appointment was announced. "I appreciate the compliments. I can walk away knowing someone is in the seat that is better than I am and can carry conservatism to our country."
DeMint said he is leaving the Senate because he needs to take the case to fix America to the people and can make a difference through the Heritage Foundation. He said that several Republican governors and leaders recognize the current course of the federal government will "end up in some type of meltdown" and he is working to prevent that.
"I will keep serving and fighting the way that you've seen in the past," DeMint said.
In response to DeMint's service, Sen. Lindsey Graham thanked him for his work and their work together representing South Carolina.
"You will be someone who is listened to for what you've done the last four years," Graham said about DeMint.
With regard to Haley's choice of Scott as Senator-elect, Grahams said she "chose wisely."
"Only advice I can give you is you got here by being Tim Scott. Just keep being Tim Scott," Graham said. "Just keep being the good person you are. He will be a great senator, a better person than he is a politician."
Scott will fill the seat until 2014, when voters will choose who will fill the remaining two years of DeMint's term.
Haley's five finalists were reportedly former first lady Jenny Sanford, U.S. Reps. Tim Scott and Trey Gowdy, former Attorney General Henry McMaster and state health agency director Catherine Templeton.
Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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