COLUMBIA - Gov. Nikki Haley this afternoon picked 1st District U.S. Rep. Tim Scott of North Charleston to be South Carolina's next U.S. senator, calling him “the right U.S. senator for our state and our country.”
Scott, 47, will fill the next two years of Jim DeMint's term before a special election is held in 2014 to formally finish out the remaining two years of the seat. He becomes the first black U.S. senator from South Carolina and the first from the South since Reconstruction.
Speaking as a female minority, Haley added that Scott has “earned this seat” through the results he has shown during his career that dates to his first years of service, on Charleston County Council beginning in 1995.
DeMint, who is leaving to head up the Heritage Foundation early next year, was present for the announcement inside the Statehouse, as was the state's other U.S. senator, Republican Lindsey Graham, and other members of the state's congressional delegation.
Haley was appreciative of DeMint's service, saying “there is no one that can replace his shoes.”
She said she chose Scott, who was already widely seen as the early front-runner, partly because of his pro-business credentials, pointing to his support of the Port of Charleston and the effort to land the Boeing expansion plant in North Charleston.
She cited his stances “against the National Labor Relations Board and the unions that tried to take Boeing down” as examples.
Haley said she expected Scott to easily win the seat again when it goes to election in 2014.
“I have no doubt that he will fly through 2014,” she said.
During his part of the press conference, Scott returned to his political roots, thanking his single mother and the mentors he had who helped turn him around as a failing North Charleston school student. He also spoke of the nation's fiscal crisis.
“Our nation finds itself in a situation where we need some backbone,” he said, adding later “We have a spending problem in America, ladies and gentlemen, not a revenue problem.”
DeMint is set to leave in early January. A special election to fill Scott's 1st Congressional District will be held later this spring.