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Future United States Senate vacancies in South Carolina would be filled via special election under new legislation introduced by S.C. Rep. Rick Quinn (R-Columbia).

Quinn introduced his bill six days after U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint shocked the political world by announcing his resignation from the U.S. Senate to serve as president of a Washington D.C. think tank.  Under current South Carolina law, Gov. Nikki Haley gets to name a replacement for DeMint who will serve until the next statewide election – which is scheduled for November 2014.

Haley is under no time constraint to make the appointment, although she has whittled her list down to five names and has said she will make a final decision prior to the end of the year.

“This proposed legislation is not intended in any way as a criticism of Governor Haley or any of the outstanding leaders she is apparently considering for appointment to the United States Senate,” Quinn said in a statement. “I am certain they would all do a fine job.”

Nikki Haley: “I got this.”

Still, Quinn said he was concerned by the “lack of public involvement in the process” and the fact “up to two full years” would pass before South Carolinians would be able to have a say in the matter.

“No one person should be able to select a U.S. Senator for the over four million citizens of South Carolina,” Quinn said. “When we vote for our United States Senator, it is one of the most important electoral decisions we make. One person should not be empowered to appoint that position for such an extended period of time.”

Quinn’s proposal makes sense to us … in fact we were thinking about writing an editorial to that effect earlier this week but he beat us to the punch.  And he’s correct – the issue has nothing to do with Haley or any of the names on her “short list.”  Instead it’s about the underlying process of how this post is filled.

Even if we were talking about a real leader (like S.C. Sen. Tom Davis) appointing a genuine fiscal conservative (like U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney) to this post – the current method still wouldn’t be right.

At the end of the day the seat belongs to the people, and the people should decide who sits in it – not two years from now, but today.

Accordingly, we support Quinn’s proposal – which would not impact the current selection process but would apply to all future U.S. Senate vacancies.