As I'm sure most of you saw late last week, U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint announced he would resign from the senate in January.
One of two U.S. senators from South Carolina, the conservative DeMint is leaving his elected post to become president of Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based Republican think tank.
The senator's announcement came as a surprise to many and sent shockwaves through the state and national political establishment, particularly on the GOP side of the aisle. DeMint's current term was not scheduled to end until 2016.
Of course, before DeMint's announcement could even be fully digested, speculation immediately began as to who would replace the senator. Gov. Nikki Haley has the authority to appoint DeMint's successor.
Haley's selection would hold the seat until 2014, at which point voters would have the opportunity to elect someone to finish the final two years of DeMint's term.
Speculation has been widespread as to who Haley might select. Much of the talk has centered on folks like U.S. Rep. Tim Scott and former state Attorney General Henry McMaster.
While I'm sure those are good choices, perhaps the governor would like a few extra names to consider. Heck, I don't see why she even needs to look outside of the Lakelands area. (Just go with me here, OK?)
So, without further ado, here's a slate of potential candidates for DeMint's seat from which the governor might want to choose:
* State Rep. Gene Pinson - Pinson has the time for the job, as he recently wrapped up a decade-long run as a state representative in District 13.
Now, I don't know if Pinson has the Tea Party chops many DeMint supporters would want in a candidate.
Sure, Pinson's a Republican. But DeMint is an über-Republican. A limited government champion. A super-hard-line conservative. When Democrats try to put the moves on, he makes like your high school girlfriend and says "no."
But Pinson would bring a statesman-like quality to the senate seat, taking his renowned hand-shaking prowess to the national level. He wouldn't stop until he had shaken the hand of every man, woman and child in the nation's capital.
* Greenwood High football coach Gene Cathcart - Let me first note this is the last person named Gene I'm going to nominate here. Sorry, Gene Hancock.
Cathcart, Greenwood's state championship winning coach, is ready-made for DeMint's post.
First of all, he's full of witty sayings and unique motivational anecdotes. "Gene-isms" is how we're referring to them, I believe. Cathcart could go down to the senate floor, make a speech about not eating carrots or something and next thing you know, boom, the national deficit is cut in half.
Also, as evidenced in last weekend's state championship thriller against Northwestern, a game in which the Eagles went for it on fourth down on multiple occasions very late in the game, Cathcart has shown he has the, ahem, testicular fortitude to make risky, but ultimately justified, decisions.
No word on whether he'd be willing to take the pay cut, though. (Just kidding. Barely.)
* Index-Journal executive editor Richard S. Whiting - He already thinks he's the county manager, the mayor, the local school superintendent and the county's lead economic development guru, so why not make him a senator?
He's snarky, sometimes cranky, often full of bull and he loves to see his name in print. You know, like a senator.
Whiting also is a veteran actor at Greenwood Community Theatre. The ability to stand up in front of a crowd and pretend to be someone else will be critical once he gets to Washington.
Also, he loves a good cigar, much like former President Bill Clinton.
(Write your own joke here.)
* Greenwood County Sheriff Tony Davis - A military veteran and career lawman, Davis would doubtless put national security at a premium.
He's a longtime baseball enthusiast, and baseball is our national pastime, after all.
As a sheriff, Davis is called upon to hassle with criminals, swindlers, crooks and cheaters, which means he would probably feel right at home in the senate.
Also, when Davis first ran for sheriff in 2008, he was a Democrat. When he was elected to a second term in November, he ran as a Republican.
Now, you often hear pundits talk about how they want elected officials to "reach across the aisle." Davis goes beyond just reaching across the aisle. He actually gets up, walks across and sits on the other side of the aisle.
* University of South Carolina football star and Greenwood native D.J. Swearinger - Sure, he's still college. Sure, he likely has his eyes on next spring's NFL draft. But perhaps Swearinger would consider being appointed to replace DeMint.
D.J. is fearless, light on his feet and isn't afraid of confrontation, all good attributes for a politician. Also, when the opposite party tries to speed something through the senate, he won't mind stepping up and stopping it dead in its tracks. Just ask Clemson's Andre Ellington.
According to gamecocksonline.com, Swearinger is pursuing a retailing degree, so perhaps he could work on bringing more retail business to the the state.
Also, Swearinger and DeMint both have bushy haircuts.

Trainor is the senior staff writer at the Index-Journal. Contact him at 943-5650; email ctrainor@indexjournal.com. You can follow him on Twitter @IJCHRISTRAINOR. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper's opinion.