THREE REASONS …
Let’s get one thing straight: Nikki Haley hates being governor of South Carolina almost as much as South Carolina hates Nikki Haley being its governor. Get past the transparent “It’s a Great Day in South Carolina” cheer-babble and you’ll find a woman who desperately wants to take her game (such as it is) to the next level.
That’s why Palmetto politicos are scratching their heads trying to figure out why Haley passed up a perfect opportunity to ditch her current gig – which clearly doesn’t suit her – in exchange for the U.S. Senate, where she could have rebranded herself with voters at home while dramatically elevating her national profile.
Seriously … Haley’s announcement that she was ruling herself out of contention for DeMint’s seat caught many (including us) off guard, initially. However looking at it in perspective it makes sense.
Three reasons …
(1) Glenn McConnell wasn’t going to play ball
Technically, Haley couldn’t have appointed herself to fill DeMint’s seat – she would have had to resign as governor and then been appointed to the Senate post by Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell. Given McConnell’s longstanding feud with Haley, that was going to be a dicey proposition.
(2) Self-appointment never works
Only once in the last eighty years has a governor who appointed himself to the U.S. Senate been able to hang onto that seat in the next election. Who was it? Kentucky Gov. Albert “Happy” Chandler – who appointed himself in 1939 and then won elections in 1940 and 1942 (Chandler resigned his seat in 1945 to become baseball commissioner). Every other time it’s happened – including here in South Carolina in 1965 – the governor appointing himself has been defeated in the very next election.
(3) Haley’s numbers are still terrible
Haley’s current approval rating is just 38 percent statewide – 61 percent amongst registered Republicans. Not only has her administration suffered a thousand small cuts, she’s absorbed a pair of major body blows – the “Savannah River Sellout” and the ongoing debacle at the S.C. Department of Revenue. In other words she really can’t afford to take another hit – like the blowback from a self-serving appointment.