Rep. Tim Scott will succeed Jim DeMint as South Carolina's junior senator, two Republican sources confirmed, making him the the first African American Republican to serve in the U.S. Senate in more than three decades.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will announce at noon Monday she is appointing Scott to replace DeMint, who is stepping down in January to become president of the conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation. Scott, who was elected to the House in the tea-party wave of 2010, had been the frontrunner to get the job.
Haley's pick is historic. Scott, 47, will become the first African American senator from the South since Reconstruction, as well as the only African American in the upper chamber. Illinois Democrat Roland Burris, who was appointed to replace Barack Obama in the Senate, last served in the chamber in November 2010.
Scott's selection also gives the GOP a prominent African-American voice in the Senate just a month after the party suffered a drubbing at the polls among minority voters. Exit polls showed that more than 90 percent of blacks backed Obama's reeelection.
"South Carolina Republicans are thrilled with Governor Haley's historic selection of Rep. Scott," South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly said in a statement after POLITICO and other media outlets confirmed the news.
"Rep. Scott embodies our American dream. He is a man of faith, a small businessman, and a consistent voice for common sense reforms. We look forward to Rep. Scott carrying Senator Jim DeMint's torch of conservative leadership."
Others reportedly on Haley's short list were Reps. Trey Gowdy, former state Attorney General Henry McMaster, state official Catherine Templeton and South Carolina's former first lady, Jenny Sanford.
But Scott, a former Charleston County Council member who owns an insurance company, had been the favorite of many South Carolina Republicans. Lindsey Graham, the state's senior senator, said last week a Scott selection would be "transformational."
In his 2010 House race, Scott went up against one of the Palmetto State's most powerful political families. He beat out Paul Thurmond, son to the late, one-time segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond, in the GOP primary, and defeated the younger Thurmond again, 68 percent to 32 percent, in a runoff election, according to The Almanac of American Politics.
Scott's appointment will set off a scramble for his House seat, which will be filled by a special election. And it means Scott will have to run in his own Senate special election in 2014, the same cycle in which Haley and Graham will be up for reelection.
Manu Raju and Kate Nocera contributed to this report
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