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Tim Scott to Replace Jim DeMint

December 17, 2012

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley plans to announce her selection of Congressman Tim Scott to the Senate seat being vacated by Jim DeMint’s resignation. Scott would have been the only African-American Republican in next year’s House of Representatives; he will be the only African-American of either party in next year’s Senate.

Scott will be the seventh African-American to serve in the Senate, the first since Roland Burris’s departure two years ago, and the first from the South since Mississippian Blanche Kelso Bruce’s term expired in 1881. Only three African-Americans have ever been popularly elected to the Senate, although Scott’s appointment makes him the instant front-runner in the next election for that seat. In all American history there have never been two African-American Senators at the same time.

Scott is a Tea Party conservative. He favors repeal of the Affordable Care Act, he opposes restrictions on offshore oil drilling, and he favors a continued American military presence in Afghanistan. He is pro-life, anti-immigrant, and his anti-labor positions are especially harsh – in addition to right-to-work laws, he favors denial of food stamps to families whose income drops to eligibility levels because a family member participates in a labor strike.

As a Charleston City Council member, Scott successfully backed legislation requiring that the Ten Commandments be posted outside the Council chambers, and he personally nailed a King James version of the commandments to the wall. When the law was inevitably struck down, Scott said of the attorneys fees paid by the City of Charleston that “Whatever it costs in the pursuit of this goal is worth it.”

Scott refused to join the Congressional Black Caucus. He has contended that African-Americans vote Democratic out of habit – as opposed, presumably, to voting out of conviction.

Scott maintains that he opposes earmarks, but, like most of his fellow conservatives, he argues that earmarks in his district aren’t earmarks at all. So in arguing for federal funding for a $300 million dredging project in the Charleston harbor, Scott said the funding was not an earmark because it was “on the merits” and would create jobs. When it comes to other people’s earmarks, Scott favors reduced government spending and lower taxes.

Losing Senator DeMint is certainly helpful to the quality of the American political discourse. Gaining Senator Scott looks like the exchange may largely be a wash.

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