South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) will appoint Rep. Tim Scott (R-SC) on Monday to replace Sen. Jim DeMint, making Scott the Senate’s only black Senator and the first Republican African-American senator since Massachusetts’ Ed Brooke. Scott will be sworn in when DeMint leaves the Senate next month to become president of the Heritage Foundation.
By South Carolina law, Scott will serve in DeMint’s seat until 2014, when he must take part in a special election for a full six-year term.
Though there was initial chatter that Haley would appoint a “placeholder” like former South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster to the seat, conservatives, like DeMint and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who endorsed Scott in his 2010 Republican primary against Strom Thurmond’s son, had expressed their enthusiasm and support for Scott.
During his brief tenure in the House, Scott symbolized how Republicans can be a part of leadership (he was elected president of his freshman class) while remaining conservative (he voted against the debt ceiling deal, for instance). He also proved that a minority conservative does not have to be an oxymoron.
He has also been a dynamic messenger of conservative ideas. During the 2012 Republican primary in South Carolina, Scott held a series of town halls with the presidential contenders. “Tim’s Town Halls” were some of the most well-attended events during the primary season, and many at the town halls were as enthused about Scott as they were about the presidential candidates.
Scott also has a powerful life story. He was raised by a single mom who worked three jobs and 16 hours a day to keep her family off of welfare. Scott also credits much of his success in life to the late John Moniz, a Chick-fil-A manager who mentored Scott as he was considering dropping out of high school.
His appointment would also be symbolic. Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired, lies in Scott’s Congressional District, and the Senate’s lone black Senator will now be from the South.
Haley had narrowed her list of potential appointees to five candidates, which included Scott, McMaster, former South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford, Rep. Trey Gowdy, and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control head Catherine Templeton.