South Carolina’s governor Nikki Haley appointed the state’s first black senator after Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) vacated his seat to serve as president of the Heritage Foundation. DeMint will be succeeded by Rep. Tim Scott, a rookie congressman who has served only one term in the House.
Despite his lack of experience, Scott has already gained the confidence of well-known conservatives such as Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin due to his loyalty to Republican values. For example, Scott proposed a bill during his time in the House that would end food stamps for families if one member went on a union strike. He also wanted to impeach Obama over the debt ceiling crisis in 2011.
Though the GOP is marketing itself as more racially diverse, minority voters still will not flock to a party that sticks to its strong underpinnings of traditional, white, protestant values. Haley insisted that Scott was at the top of her list for his merits, and not his race, which makes it clear that the Republican party isn’t looking to change its policies — just its face.
Scott rose to popularity after defeating the son of former segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) in the 2012 House election. Thurmond held the South Carolina senate seat for nearly 50 years, and still maintained his segregationist policies until he left the senate in 2003. He will now serve as the first Southern black senator since the 1880s.