Making history

Politics South Carolina conservative Rep. Tim Scott is set to become the Senate’s only African-American | J.C. Derrick

Making history

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley introduces Rep. Tim Scott (center) as Sen. Jim DeMint looks on.
Associated Press/Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt

WASHINGTON—The man who wants to help a billion people in his lifetime has taken a big step toward meeting his goal.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley on Monday named Rep. Tim Scott to replace Sen. Jim DeMint, the conservative stalwart who is stepping down to lead The Heritage Foundation starting in January. Rep. Scott, whom WORLD profiled in October (see “There to serve” by Edward Lee Pitts), will become the only African-American in the Senate, and the upper chamber’s first black lawmaker from the South since Reconstruction.

“I look forward to pressing the flesh on economic development issues, having the opportunity to work on making sure that our economy in this state continues to hum like an engine,” Scott said while accepting Gov. Haley’s nomination at a news conference in Columbia, S.C.

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Sen. DeMint, who appeared with Haley and Scott for the announcement, called Scott’s selection “a great choice.” A variety of conservative groups were quick to laud Haley’s decision, including the Family Research Council (FRC), the Susan B. Anthony List, Americans for Prosperity, and Tea Party Patriots.

“Tim Scott is a solid leader on the issues most important to the family,” said FRC President Tony Perkins. “He has long fought for the helpless of society, and this has been reflected in the issues that he has championed in Congress.”

Scott has a strong conservative voting record in his two years in the House, including opposition to the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) and support for pro-life and pro-marriage legislation. He voted against the debt-ceiling deal House Speaker John Boehner and President Barack Obama negotiated last year, joining 65 other conservatives who said it didn’t do enough to curtail Washington spending.

Scott was elected in 2010 along with Florida’s Allen West, giving House Republicans two African-American voices after going without one since 2003. West lost his reelection bid last month, so the House will again lack an African-American Republican starting in January.

Scott’s arrival won’t change the ideological makeup of the Senate, where Democrats will hold a 53-45 majority (two independents also will caucus with Democrats) when the 113th Congress is seated in January. DeMint was first elected to the Senate in 2004, and his current term was set to expire in 2016.

“Sen. DeMint is hard to replace, but we’re confident Congressman Scott will continue his work by being a powerful and effective advocate for economic freedom,” said Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, a group advocating for conservative economic policies and limited government.

Scott, 47, said he intends to run for the remainder of DeMint’s term when a special election is held in 2014. Haley, elected two years ago, and the Palmetto State’s senior senator, Lindsey Graham, will both be up for reelection in 2014.

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