Will Tea Party Fave Tim Scott Become Next Black U.S. Senator?

The GOP could make history and inroads with minorities if South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley appoints Scott to fill vacant seat.

Posted: 12/07/2012 03:24 PM EST
Rep. Tim Scott

Is South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott the kind of change the GOP is looking for? He'll soon be the House's only African-American Republican, but if some on the right have their way, he'll become the nation's only African-American U.S. senator.

Since South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint resigned this week to head the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, Scott has become a leading contender, and there's even an online petition to appoint him to fill the seat.

Will Gov. Nikki Haley heed their call?

It would be a rare opportunity for Haley, who made history herself when she became the nation's first Indian-American female governor, to make history again by appointing an African-American Republican to represent the Tea Party in the U.S. Senate. Scott also would be the fifth Black senator since Reconstruction.

Such an appointment also would be a boon to the Republican Party. Since Mitt Romney lost his presidential bid in November, the GOP has been licking its wounds and scrambling to reinvent itself to convince minorities and other members of the "47 percent" that it cares about them, too. 

Haley, in a statement issued Friday morning, said that she would choose someone whose positions align with hers and DeMint's. And according to one source, TPM reports, Scott fits that bill.

But Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Emanuel Cleaver, who thinks Scott is "a good guy" who "doesn't say crazy things," said such a move would really be just more of the same.

“There are policy changes that have got to take place [to win over minorities], and Tim Scott is essentially going to have the same policies that DeMint had,” Cleaver said on MSNBC's Friday edition of Morning Joe.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Mike Segar)

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