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South Carolina governor will not name herself to Senate seat

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley addresses the second session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida August 28, 2012. RE
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley addresses the second session of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida August 28, 2012. RE

By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said on Friday she would not appoint herself to the Senate seat being vacated by fellow Republican Jim DeMint.

DeMint, a leading conservative voice, said on Thursday he was resigning to run the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think tank.

As governor, Haley can name herself or someone else to fill the seat until a 2014 election that would decide who will complete the last two years of DeMint's six-year term.

"I will make this decision in a manner that is thoughtful and dignified, but also quickly," Haley said in a statement.

"I will not take the appointment myself." she said. "I will appoint a person who has the same philosophy of government that Jim DeMint and I share."

Speculation about who Haley, who is seen as a rising political star, might choose has included Republican Representative Tim Scott. Like Haley, Scott was elected in 2010 with support from the anti-big government Tea Party movement.

The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, reported that DeMint, who has been in the Senate since 2004, told Haley he wanted Scott named his successor. It cited sources close to DeMint for the story.

Scott, whose coastal district includes Charleston, has been one of the most conservative members of Congress. If appointed, he would be the first black senator from the South since the late 1800s.

Scott's office had no immediate comment.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham also will be up for re-election in 2014, but the seats will be listed separately on the ballot, said election commission spokesman Chris Whitmire.

(Editing by Ian Simpson and David Storey)

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