The most likely person to replace retiring Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), at least according to early political prognostications, is Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), a black conservative first elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010. DeMint reportedly favors Scott to replace him, other conservatives love him, and he appears to have a good relationship with the only person who matters, Gov. Nikki Haley (R-S.C.). (Haley will handpick a senator who will serve until an election is held in 2014.) But almost as soon as Scott's name popped up, another South Carolina native was roped in: Stephen Colbert.
The ubiquitous mock Twitter feed, @ColbertforSC, appeared almost immediately after DeMint shocked Capitol Hill with the announcement that he's jumping ship to head up the Heritage Foundation. But Colbert didn't exactly run away from the encouragement. "Stephen is honored by the groundswell of support from the Palmetto State and looks forward to Governor Haley's call," says his personal publicist, Carrie Byalick. And on his own (real) Twitter feed, Colbert just fed the speculation:
Conservatives are throwing cold water on the idea, though perhaps a little defensively. "Colbert and his supporters are likely destined for disappointment in getting the host appointed to fill DeMint's seat," says Madeleine Morgenstern at Glenn Beck's site The Blaze. "Haley, a Republican, will make the call and is no doubt familiar with Colbert's bombastic, faux-conservative stage personality."
But it's not entirely implausible that Colbert could make a strong run for the seat in the 2014 election. He's "made no secret of his desire to hold higher office," having staged mostly satirical runs for the White House in 2008 and 2012, notes Andy Kroll at Mother Jones. Plus, he has a real-life, bona fide super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, which he transformed into a dark-money nonprofit, Colbert Super-PAC SHH! "Colbert would have had a tough road in the primaries," both Democratic and Republican, says David Graham at The Atlantic. But a Senator Colbert isn't impossible, and it would certainly shake up Washington. "Consider it, Governor Haley."
Colbert is a comedian, but he does dabble in real politics — he appeared before Congress to testify about campaign finance, and he's appeared at a fake rally in South Carolina with real presidential hopeful Herman Cain. And he has up to $900,000 left in super PAC money that would go a long way in a "run for national office as a senator from the state that calls him its 'favorite son,'" says Ross Luippold at The Huffington Post. "There's one problem, though: Colbert can't actually serve in the Senate." His contract with Comedy Central isn't up until 2014, after the special election. Oh well, "we certainly hope he has some fun in the meantime."
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