South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has officially appointed Rep. Tim Scott to retiring Senator Jim DeMint’s seat.
“This is the right U.S. Senator for our state and for our country…He earned this seat for what I know he’s going to do in making South Carolina and making our country proud,” Haley said at a press conference Monday afternoon.
“Governor Haley has made a great choice for South Carolina and the nation. Tim Scott is a principled leader and will make an outstanding senator for the people of the South Carolina and an important voice for conservatives across the nation,” DeMint said.
Earlier this morning Haley’s political director Kurt Pickhard tweeted that, “Today is going to be historic,” leading politico’s to believe that Haley had selected Scott.
Scott will replace Jim DeMint of South Carolina in the U.S. Senate, who announced Dec. 6 that he would resign from the Senate in January to become President of the Washington, D.C. based conservative think-tank the Heritage Foundation. Scott was rumored to be DeMint’s pick to succeed him, however his office has since denied that claim.
The Republican congressman will be the only black U.S. Senator and the first black Republican Senator in more than 30 years.
“When someone asks me why I’m a Republican, I tell them: ‘Because my momma raised me right,’ ” Scott told young Republicans from across the nation at the Young Republican National Federation’s (YRNF) biannual leadership conference in Washington, D.C. last summer.
Scott, who was raised by a single mom, is currently the only black Republican set to serve in the upcoming 113th Congress after controversial Republican Rep. Allen West of Florida lost a close reelection bid last month.
“Coming from a single-parent household and almost flunking out of high school my hope is I will take that experience and help people bring out the best that they can be,” Scott said during his 2010 bid for Congress.
Scott was the overall favorite for the seat and was the top choice among South Carolina Republicans to serve as DeMint’s replacement according to a Public Policy Polling (PPP) poll.
Other names on Nikki Haley’s short list for the seat included former S.C. First Lady Jenny Sanford, freshman Rep. Trey Gowdy, who has doggedly went after the Obama administration for it’s mishandling of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, former S.C. attorney general Henry McMaster and Catherine Templeton, a lawyer.
Scott will have to run in a special election in 2014 in order to keep the seat and serve out the remainder of DeMint’s term. DeMint would have been up for reelection in 2016. By appointing Scott, Haley has all but ensure that Republicans will keep the seat in both the 2014 special election and 2016 general election.
The announcement will also set off a special election to fill Scott’s seat in the House of Representatives, which he was just reelected to last month.
As soon as the news broke progressives were already on the attack, attempting to portray Scott as a radical who is not fit for office, despite his inspiring personal story and approval rating among the state’s Republicans.
A brief background on Tim Scott:
- Born September 19, 1965 (age 47) in Charleston, S.C. to Ben Scott, Sr. and Frances Scott.
- Was largely raised by his mother, a nursing assistant who worked 16-hour days to support him and his older brother. Almost dropped out of high school until a local Chick-fil-a owner took him under his wing and taught him about conservative principles.
- Graduated from Charleston Southern University in 1998 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science.
- Was the first black Republican elected to any office in South Carolina post-Reconstruction when he won nearly 80 percent of the vote in his first election, a special election to the Charleston County Council at-large seat in February 1995.
- Made headlines when he supported the placement of the Ten Commandments outside the council chambers in 1997; a local court later ordered them removed.
- Became Chairman of the Council in 2007.
- Entered the state House of Representatives in 2008, becoming the first Republican African-American elected to the chamber in more than a century.
- Elected to Congress in 2010 from South Carolina’s 1st District with more than 60 percent of the vote, replacing retiring Republican Henry Brown. Defeated Paul Thurmond, son of the late Senator Strom Thurmond, in the run-off.
- Unmarried and deeply religious, Scott also owns his own Allstate Insurance Agency and is a partner in Pathway Real Estate Group, LLC.
- Scott will be the first black U.S. Senator to represent South Carolina.
Katie LaPotin contributed to this report.