U.S. Sen. Tim Scott says he's about to launch a statewide media blitz worth "hundreds of thousands of dollars" toward promoting his name identification even as his opponent in the June Republican primary has been a virtual no-show on the trail so far.
"If anyone signs up on the ballot, I take them seriously," said Scott, R-S.C. "So we're going to just work it like it's serious."
Scott has amassed a war chest of more than $3.7 million but faces only a long-shot challenger in the GOP primary from Greenville resident Randall Young who fell off the political radar almost immediately after paying the $10,440 primary filing fee, in March.
Repeated efforts by state media to locate Young have been unsuccessful. Visits to his last known address did not pan out and the cell phone number he listed on his candidate filing documents has since been re-issued to a new customer in the Upstate.
Even the state Republican Party is perplexed.
"Randall Young has not communicated with any party leaders despite our efforts to reach him," said Chairman Matt Moore. "We can't find him."
For his part, Scott said his primary budget was set before the election cycle began, and that he hasn't seen anything surface for his spending plan to be reduced.
"We'll spend a fair amount of money marketing ourselves based on what we know we need to do in order to be successful," he said, but did not disclose target amounts.
Young did run for a Greenville seat in the House of Representatives last year, collecting just 24 votes and finishing last in a five-way GOP primary.
"Obviously he's run for office before; he's got some supporters." Scott said.
Scott is in his second year in the Senate after being appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley to fill the vacancy created when Jim DeMint quit to lead the Heritage Foundation. This will be Scott's first official defense of the seat in a statewide election.
During an interview last week, Scott, 48, said there has been a learning curve unique to the Senate he's had to sift through during his time in Washington.
"To make progress you certainly have to be willing to understand that persistence and patience will lead to progress," he said.
Two figures he mentioned as being helpful in his early Senate career were, from the Democratic Party, former Sen. Mo Cowan of Massachusetts, who held the seat only on a fill-in basis, and from the Republican side, Sen. John Borasso, R-Wyoming, whom Scott called his mentor.
"He's spent more time helping me to become acclimated and acquainted with the way of the Senate than any other senator and perhaps all the other senators combined."
He is less supportive of Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.
"He lacks the vision that's necessary to move the Senate forward," Scott said of Reid. "He has the good fortune of having the rules of the Senate designed by him for him, and only through him will good legislation see the light of day, and that has not happened."
Scott also remains critical of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, saying despite its efforts the cost will be exorbitant and Americans still won't have the affordable health opportunities that were promised.
"The only good benefitting from Obamacare so far are politicians, and that's unfortunate," he said. He also is against raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, as Democrats have supported, calling it a job destroyer.
As a senator, and like much of the body, about one-third of his day is spent on fundraising, but he still has no plans to join the Congressional Black Caucus.
"There is nothing in the foreseeable future that has me and the Congressional Black Caucus joining forces, with me as a member," he said, saying the concept is too divisive.
"I think we're better together; I've always have been that way," he said.
Three Democrats are in a primary to decide who among them will face Scott in November: Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson, former York County Councilman Sidney Moore, and Horry County lawyer Harry Pavilack.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551