State Rep. Tim Scott's political star rose even higher Tuesday as he won the 1st District race to become South Carolina's first black Republican congressman in more than a century.
With most precincts reporting, Scott was leading with about 65 percent of the vote in the seven-way race, according to unofficial results.
He will become the nation's first black Republican in Congress since 2003, when former Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts retired. He could have company, with other black Republicans in competitive races in south Florida and Colorado.
Scott, 45, has grown accustomed to breaking barriers. He was the first black Republican on Charleston County Council, serving there from 1995 until his 2008 election as South Carolina's first black Republican state House member in more than a century.
But he did not talk about the historical aspect of his candidacy on the stump.
"All we hear is the issue, 'He's a black Republican,' " Scott told a few hundred supporters inside the Hilton Garden Inn in North Charleston Tuesday. "I got to tell you. I'm black. I'm proud. I've got a bald head and my smile is beautiful.
"But all those things don't matter. ... With a strong victory, what we realize is that people are more concerned with the character of the individual, not the characteristics of the individual."
Scott stuck to conservative Republican themes, such as repealing the new federal health care law, lowering taxes to promote business and reigning in Washington spending.
"With a $13 trillion deficit, enough is enough is enough," he said.
The other candidates, and their preliminary percentages, were: Democrat Ben Frasier, 28 percent; Working Families candidate Rob Groce, about 2 percent; Independence candidate Jimmy Wood, 1 percent; Libertarian candidate Keith Blandford, 1 percent; Green Party candidate Robert Dobbs, 1.5 percent; and United Citizens candidate Mac McCullough, less than 1 percent.
The First District has 497,157 registered voters, about 78 percent of whom are white. It has more voters than any of the state's six other congressional districts and is expected to change shape significantly after this year's census.
The campaign was as quiet as June's 9-way Republican primary was loud. Most experts expected Scott to cruise to victory in a congressional district held by Republicans for three consecutive decades. There was no televised debate, no public forum featuring all seven candidates.
Frasier, who has run for this office more than a dozen times without success, was cited Friday by the Federal Election Commission for failure to file a campaign disclosure report.
Scott had begun campaigning for lieutenant governor, until incumbent a surprise announcement by 1st District Rep. Henry Brown this year that he would not seek a sixth term.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.