and Stephen Largen
Post and Courier
Tim Scott’s elevation to U.S. senator caps a meteoric rise in South Carolina politics, showcasing how the son of a single mother went from failing high school Spanish in North Charleston, to being rewarded with one of the most prized jobs in American politics.
Scott, a Republican, becomes the first black senator in the South’s modern era at a time when the GOP is struggling nationally to win support among minorities.
For the Lowcountry, Scott gives the Charleston region its first resident senator since influential Democrat Fritz Hollings retired in 2004.
Gov. Nikki Haley formally announced her pick Monday, confirming early speculation that Scott was the favorite to succeed resigning GOP incumbent Jim DeMint.
Scott, 47, thanked Haley, his family, mentors and well-wishers at a Statehouse press conference, flanked by members of the state’s congressional delegation.
“When you start out in a single-parent household with a mom that works 16 hours a day, and you’re looking at a future that doesn’t look as bright and you’re living in North Charleston, South Carolina, you build the strength that comes from having appreciation and nderstanding that it’s not about you, it’s about your faith, it’s about your family.” Scott said.
He was particularly thankful to his mother, who he said “understood that love sometimes comes at the end of a switch.”
Haley noted the historic and racially ground-breaking nature of the appointment but said Scott earned the job through a political career committed to a conservative Republican message.
“He earned this seat for what I know he is going to do to make South Carolina and our country proud,” she said.
Scott will fill out the next two years of DeMint’s term before a special election is held in 2014 to fill out the final two years of the seat. Haley said she expects Scott to win out easily.
As an advocate of term limits, Scott
See SCOTT, Page 2
said he envisions finishing the remainder of DeMint’s term and then maybe two more six-year terms after that. He expects to be sworn-in Jan. 3.
Scott’s political career dates to 1995 when he won a seat on Charleston County Council. He became the first black Republican elected to any office in South Carolina since 1900.
After a long stint on the council, in 2008 he won a seat in the state House of Representatives. In 2010, he won the Charleston and coastal South Carolina 1st Congressional District seat after incumbent Henry Brown retired.
While in office Scott became associated with the tea party movement and railed against government overspending.
“We have a spending problem in America, ladies and gentlemen, not a revenue problem,” he said Monday, pulling out a line he’s used on the campaign trail.
A special election to fill Scott’s 1st Congressional District seat will be held during the spring of 2013. A number of Republicans have expressed interest.
The first candidates came forward Monday when former Charleston County School Board member Larry Kobrovsky said he would run.
Mount Pleasant Republican Robert E. “Teddy” Turner IV also announced he will enter the race. Turner is a entrepreneur and conservationist who teaches high school economics at Charleston Collegiate School.
Among those also said to be considering runs are local Republican state lawmakers Larry Grooms, Chip Limehouse, Jim Merrill, Peter McCoy, and Paul Thurmond. Also possible are Charleston County Councilman Elliott Summey, Scott legislative office chief of staff Joe McKeown, and Sanford.
DeMint will leave in January to become the next president of the Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C., think tank.
DeMint was at Monday’s news conference and enthusiastically supported Haley’s pick.
“I can walk away from the Senate knowing that someone is in this seat that is better than I am, that will carry that voice of opportunity conservatism to the whole country in a way that I couldn’t do,” he said.