It’s the end of an era in South Carolina politics — with a son of the legendary Strom Thurmond losing a Republican primary for Congress against a Tea Party-backed candidate.
In the race to succeed retiring GOP Rep. Henry Brown, state Rep. Tim Scott has defeated Charleston County Commissioner Paul Thurmond, the 34-year-old son of the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC), who died in 2003 at age 100. With 83% of precincts reporting, Scott leads by 69%-31%. Scott, who led in the first round of the primary two weeks ago with 31% to Thurmond’s 16%, had the support of elements of the Tea Party movement, as well as the endorsement of Sarah Palin. If he is elected in this Republican-leaning district, Scott would be the first black Republican in Congress since the retirement of Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK) in 2002.
The elder Thurmond was a legend of state politics. Elected governor in 1946 as a conservative Southern Democrat, Thurmond led the Dixiecrat ticket in 1948 on a staunchly segregationist platform, winning 39 electoral votes in the deep South. He was later elected to the Senate in 1954 — the only person to ever be elected to the Senate as a write-in candidate — and switched to the Republican Party in 1964, serving until his retirement in 2002.