South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley chose Tim Scottto become the interim replacement in the US Senate for Jim DeMint, who will leave to run the Heritage Foundation in January of next year. Scott becomes the first African-American Senator since Roland Burris left in 2010, and the first African-American representing the South in the Senate since Reconstruction (there have only been six other African-American Senators total in the history of the country). Governor Haley made the announcement at the State House in Columbia a short while ago.
Mr. Scott, 47, offers a unique story and background, one that is in scant supply in the Republican Party right now. Raised by a single mother, he was, by his account, a lost child who struggled with school and with life until a Chick-fil-A franchise owner took him on as a protégé and schooled him in conservative principles.
“Coming from a single-parent household and almost flunking out of high school,” Mr. Scott said in 2010, during his bid for the House, “my hope is I will take that experience and help people bring out the best that they can be.”
Although the Republicans have far fewer minorities and women in Congress than the Democrats, the party, with Monday’s announcement, will now be able to claim the only current black member of the Senate, as well as two of the three Latinos.
Scott’s background should not be seen as a stand-in for his politics, just as the ethnic or racial background of, say, a Barack Obama, should stand in for his politics, as he would probably tell you himself. Scott is deeply conservative, with doctrinaire beliefs that will only get amplified from his perch in the Senate. He rode to success by beating conservative Bob Inglis in a primary, with the help of the Tea Party.
Think Progress chronicles some of his more notorious positions:
Floated impeaching Obama over the debt ceiling. As the debt ceiling debate raged in the summer of 2011 because of the intransigence of Tea Party freshmen like Scott, the nation inched perilously close to defaulting on its obligations. One option discussed by some officials to avoid that scenario was for the president to assert that the debt ceiling itself was an unconstitutional infringement on the 14th Amendment. However, Tim Scott told a South Carolina Tea Party group that if Obama were to go this route, it would be an “impeachable act.”
Proposed a bill to cut off food stamps for entire families if one member went on strike. One of the most anti-union members of Congress, Scott proposed a bill two months after entering Congress in 2011 to kick families off food stamps if one adult were participating in a strike. Scott’s legislation made no exception for children or other dependents.
Wanted to spend an unlimited amount of money to display Ten Commandments outside county building. When Scott was on the Charleston County Council, one of his primary issues was displaying the Ten Commandments outside the Council building. According to the Augusta Chronicle, Scott said the display “would remind council members and speakers the moral absolutes they should follow.” When he was sued for violating the Constitution and a Circuit Judge’s orders, Scott was nonplussed: “Whatever it costs in the pursuit of this goal (of displaying the Commandments) is worth it.”
Of course, Scott is replacing DeMint, so the seat arguably moves slightly to the left in the exchange. And the person probably the happiest about this turn of events is Lindsey Graham, because it deprives Scott of a chance to defeat him in primary next year.
This is probably another vote in the Senate for the hard-right conservative movement that DeMint fostered. Scott was DeMint’s choice for his replacement.
Photo by North Charleston under Creative Commons license