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WITH U.S. SENATE APPOINTMENT DONE, NIKKI HALEY MUST NOW RETURN TO GOVERNING

U.S. Senator-designate Tim Scott wasn’t the only person to win big as a result of Jim DeMint’s surprise resignation from the U.S. Senate earlier this month.  Embattled S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley may have benefited every bit as much as the politician she named to replace DeMint in Washington, D.C. for the next two years.

Not only did Haley’s appointment of Tim Scott give her the opportunity to make a historic selection – one that was exceedingly well-received both nationally and here at home – but it completely drowned out coverage of the massive hacking scandal at Haley’s Department of Revenue (SCDOR).

Also, while Scott wasn’t our first (or even fifth) pick to replace DeMint – Mick Mulvaney, Jeff Duncan, Tom Davis, Curtis Loftis or Alan Wilson would have been much better options, in our opinion – he’s not necessarily a terrible choice.  He still has potential to live up to the fiscal promises he made during his 2010 campaign for the U.S. House … although he obviously has the potential to be another “Republican in Name Only” like U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham.

It’s a simple choice, really.

Anyway, while Scott’s future path remains to be charted – no one is going to argue that Haley managed the process surrounding his appointment exceedingly well.

Haley needed such a diversion … badly.  A Winthrop University poll published the day before DeMint’s announcement put Haley’s approval rating at 38 percent.  Meanwhile a Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey taken a few days later had her approval rating at 42 percent – with 49 percent of South Carolinians disapproving of her job performance.

Those numbers are awful …

So … will Haley get a “Tim Scott bump?”  Probably … although as we’ve noted previously endorsements and appointments (even high profile ones) don’t necessarily translate into prolonged surges in popularity.  That’s especially true for Haley – who is struggling to keep more than 6 of 10 Republicans in her tent and is getting absolutely shredded among independent voters.

Haley’s problem?  Now that the appointment process has drawn to a close she must refocus her efforts on addressing the scandals that have dogged her during her first term in office – while simultaneously preparing a budget and legislative agenda for a critical session of the S.C. General Assembly.

Those are tall orders … and thus far Haley has proven thoroughly incapable of filling them.

Still, Christmas came early for Nikki Haley this year … and it’s hard to argue that the governor didn’t make the most out of a desperately needed political gift.

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