Tim Scott celebrates his election to the U.S. House in North Charleston, S.C., on Nov. 2, 2010.(Photo: Alice Keeney, AP)
Rep. Tim Scott was named Monday to replace outgoing GOP Sen. Jim
DeMint, becoming the first African-American senator from the South since
In making the appointment, South Carolina Gov.
Nikki Haley -- herself a trailblazer as the state's first female
governor -- heralded Scott and his conservative record in Congress and
the state Legislature. She cited his votes to hold down federal spending
and create more jobs in the state, as well as his efforts pushing back
on the federal government and unions against Boeing Co.'s labor
"It is very important to me as a minority female that
Congressman Scott earned his seat," said Haley, who is of Indian
descent. "He earned this seat for the person he is."
replace outgoing GOP Sen. Jim DeMint, an influential conservative and
Tea Party favorite, who is resigning to become president of the Heritage
Foundation, a conservative think tank. Scott said he intends to run for
the remainder of DeMint's term during a special election in 2014.
am thankful to the good Lord and a strong mom who believes love has to
come at the end of a switch," said Scott, 47, as he praised his single
mother's work ethic and the guidance of businessman John Moniz, the
owner of a Chick-fil-A franchise who became his mentor.
Scott vowed to tackle the nation's debt and budget issues, with an eye toward cutting spending.
nation finds itself in a situation where we need some backbone," Scott
said at a news conference at the Statehouse in Columbia, surrounded by
Haley, DeMint and the state's congressional delegation. "If you have a
problem with spending there's not enough revenue to make up for it."
Woodard, a political scientist at Clemson University, said Scott's
appointment is "historic for all of the South." While Scott is the first
African American from the Deep South to serve in the U.S. Senate, he is
also the first black senator from the Palmetto State.
African Americans need are capitalism and conservative values, and Tim
Scott is a great vehicle for that," Woodard said. "He represents a
generation that is interested in entrepreneurship, conservative
principles and volunteerism."
Scott, 47, was elected in 2010 to
represent a U.S. House district in the Charleston area. A former member
of the South Carolina state Legislature, Scott quickly became a favorite
of House Speaker John Boehner and GOP officials in Washington and
served in a leadership position for the 2010 freshman class.
He has a compelling life story, according to his biography in the Almanac of American Politics.
Scott and his siblings were raised by a single mother who worked as a
nurse's assistant. By his own account, Scott was on the brink of
flunking out of high school when Moniz took him under his wing. Scott
later earned a partial football scholarship to college, and ran an
insurance company and owned part of a real-estate agency before entering
Scott's appointment was immediately hailed by the
conservative Club for Growth and FreedomWorks, which has strong ties to
the Tea Party movement. But Scott was also disparaged by liberal groups
such as People for the American Way, which said he "embraces the
religious right's anti-gay, anti-choice social agenda and the Tea
Party's anti-government, anti-tax, anti-regulation agenda."
law gave Haley sole authority to appoint a replacement for DeMint, who
was first elected in 2004 and is leaving before his second term ends
January 2017. The appointment holds major political weight for Haley,
who has low approval ratings and is up for re-election in 2014.
said he expects to take office on Jan. 3, when the 113th Congress
convenes for the first time and new lawmakers are sworn in to office.
reportedly had been considering five candidates: Congressmen Scott and
Trey Gowdy, both elected in the Tea Party wave of 2010; former state
first lady Jenny Sanford; former attorney general Henry McMaster; and
Catherine Templeton, head of the state Department of Health
The appointment sets in motion a series of
events, which will make 2014 a busy year for Palmetto State politics.
Both Haley and Graham, the state's senior U.S. senator, are on the
ballot in 2014. There will also be a special election next year for
Scott's seat in the U.S. House.
Woodard noted that Scott is
popular and well-liked and has the support of his fellow members of
Congress from South Carolina, which would give him an edge in a
statewide race. The five GOP House members from South Carolina are very
close, and they stuck together during a high-profile vote last year
against Boehner's bill to reduce the deficit.
There have only
been six blacks who have served in the U.S. Senate, according to the
Senate website. They are Hiram Revels of Mississippi, who served in
1870; Blanche Bruce of Mississippi from 1875 to 1881; Edward Brooke of
Massachusetts from 1967 to 1979; Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois from
1993 to 1999; Barack Obama of Illinois from 2005 until he resigned in
2008 after his presidential election; and Roland Burris, who was
appointed to replace Obama and served until November 2010.