South Carolina governor Nikki Haley announced Monday that Rep. Tim Scott would replace Jim DeMint as the Palmetto State’s junior senator.
“This man loves South Carolina,” Haley said at a press conference introducing Scott. “It was with that that I knew that he was the right person. I have no doubt that he will fly through 2014.”
Scott, who joined the since-defeated Allen West in 2010 as the Republican Party’s only black members of Congress, will now become the United States’ only black senator. Additionally, he will become the GOP’s first black senator since Massachusetts’ Edward Brooke in 1978.
Scott’s heritage clearly played a role in Haley’s decision; she noted at the press conference that “It is important to me, as a minority female, that Congressman Scott earned this seat. He earned this seat for the person that he is. He earned this seat with the results he has shown.”
While Scott said that “Senator Jim DeMint has led in a way that few others have led,” and that “there’s no way to fill his shoes,” he promised to run for re-election in 2014.
“I look forward to having an opportunity to getting [sic] around the state and introducing myself to citizens of this great state of South Carolina,” Scott said.
Scott, who was reportedly DeMint’s top pick to succeed him, is a Tea Party favorite who should seamlessly continue DeMint’s legacy of pushing far right politics. As Peter Montgomery points out at Right Wing Watch, Scott’s positions closely mirror DeMint’s; the incoming senator holds far-right positions on abortion and gay rights (earning him a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign), he dogmatically opposes any tax increases under any circumstances, he has threatened to impeach President Obama (based on a hypothetical executive order invoking the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling), and he is one of the most anti-union members of Congress.
At today’s press conference, Haley declared that Scott “has shown courage when he helped us with the fight against the National Labor Relations Board and the unions that tried to take Boeing down,” and it is certainly true that Scott is always ready for a fight against workers. One particularly vindictive example of Scott’s hostility to labor came in 2011, when he co-wrote a bill that would remove an entire family’s government benefits if any single family member went on strike.
As a result of these right-wing positions, Tea Party groups in South Carolina and across the nation are applauding Scott’s appointment to the Senate. As Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin said in a statement, “Tim Scott has taken our core values seriously in the House and we have every reason to expect similar, principled behavior in the Senate.”
Video of the full press conference announcing Scott as DeMint’s replacement can be seen here
Photo credit: AP/Charles Dharapak, File