A freshman legislator and 2008 congressional candidate are among those considering running for the 1st Congressional District seat after Gov. Nikki Haley appointed U.S. Rep. Tim Scott to replace Sen. Jim DeMint.
State Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head Island, and Beaufort County Democratic Party chairman Blaine Lotz expressed interest Monday, as did a handful of other legislators, in the House seat held by Scott, R-Charleston.
Patrick, elected to a second term Nov. 6 in an uncontested race, said he will discuss a run with his wife and pray about his decision.
"Two weeks ago, I never thought about running for higher office and was focused on doing the best I can representing Hilton Head Island and being a father and husband," said Patrick, who is chief executive officer of Advance Point Global, a security consulting firm.
"But it is something I need to think about and an opportunity worth considering."
Lotz ran for Congress -- when much of Beaufort County was in the 2nd District -- in 2008, but was defeated in the Democratic primary by Rob Miller of Lady's Island, who lost the general election to U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson, R-Springdale. After the 2010 Census, redistricting placed most of Beaufort County in Scott's 1st District.
Lotz said Monday he plans to speak with family, friends and voters over the next few weeks to determine whether he should seek the office.
Primaries should take place in 11 weeks and a general election in 18, according to state law. Assuming DeMint resigns in early January as announced, and Scott also resigns then, the soonest date for the special election would be early May.
Others expressing interest Monday included state Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Charleston, and state Reps. Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, and Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley. Mount Pleasant Republican Robert "Teddy" Turner IV, a Citadel graduate and son of media mogul Ted Turner, said in a news release he will seek the office.
Potential candidates and S.C. GOP consultants say a candidate will need to raise $500,000 to $1 million to be competitive in the race for the district that is about 40 percent in Charleston County, 25 percent in Beaufort County and the rest in Berkeley, Colleton and Dorchester counties. Candidates probably will start lining up potential donors in the next few weeks, they said.
One person not likely to seek the seat is state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort. He called Haley's office Dec. 6 to tell her he was not interested in replacing DeMint and said Monday he's not interested in replacing Scott. "I'm focused entirely on the 2013 state legislative session and the job the people of Beaufort County sent me to do in Columbia, which is to cut and control the size of state government," he said.
Scott, 47, is expected to take over DeMint's role as a tea party fiscal conservative in the Senate. Hilton Head Island TEA Party chairwoman Kate Keep believes he will.
"I don't think (Gov. Haley) could have picked a better person," Keep said. "He's smart. He does his homework. He is a true fiscal conservative. He can also be very persuasive and will strengthen other conservatives in the Senate to avoid increasing taxes, reduce the deficit and control spending."