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CURTIS LOFTIS, MAYBE?

At this point it seems highly likely that S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley will face at least one serious challenge from the right during the 2014 election season.  Hell, she may face an independent conservative candidate in the general election that year in addition to a well-funded GOP primary challenge.

Why?  Because Haley is in an incredibly weak position politically – earning the approval of only six out of ten registered voters in her own party, according to the latest polling data.  Those are terrible numbers for an incumbent halfway through her first term, people.

Accordingly, some are speculating that Haley might try to improve her dismal electoral prospects by naming one of her potential gubernatorial rivals to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jim DeMint.  Among those potential rivals?  S.C. Treasurer Curtis Loftis, State Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort), U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney and S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson.

Davis has said he’s not interested in the appointment  – and has thrown his support behind Mulvaney.  Meanwhile Wilson is general seen as having set his sights on Washington, D.C. – not the governor’s office.

As for Loftis – he has made no bones of his contempt for Haley.  In fact he’s already on the record saying he’ll run against her in 2014 if no one credible steps up to the plate to do it.

Where Haley has stumbled during her first term, Loftis has shone.  And where Haley has joined forces with the state’s status quo – Loftis has aggressively challenged it (most notably in his war against the state’s corrupt, inefficient pension fund).

Grassroots Tea Partiers have also been pushing Loftis to run for Senate for some time – meaning Haley might be able to knock off a potential opponent and pick up some points on her right flank at the same time.

Again … we don’t see any scenario unfolding in which Haley names a true fiscal conservative to this position.   But were she to do so, choosing Loftis would be a political masterstroke.

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