South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) officially appointed freshman Rep. Tim Scott (R) to serve the remainder of the retiring Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R) term Monday.
Although the news was not surprising, the ascendance of Scott was notable. He is the first African American Republican senator since Edward Brooke (R-MA) left the Senate in 1979 and the first African American senator from a southern state since Reconstruction.
Haley touched on the noteworthy nature of the appointment in her remarks making the announcement in Columbia, the state capital.
“It is a great day in South Carolina,” she said. “It is an historic day in South Carolina.”
But Haley, herself of South Asian descent and a prominent minority voice in the GOP, also said the appointment was a reflection on Scott, who won his seat in Congress on the back of the 2010 tea party wave.
“What I will also tell you, and it is very important to me as a minority female, that Congressman Scott earned this seat. He earned this seat for the person that he is,” she said. “He earned this seat for the results he has shown. He earned this seat for what I know he’s going to do in making South Carolina and making our country proud.”
Sen. Linsdey Graham (R), who’ll serve alongside Scott, also noted the historic nature of the appointment to South Carolina.
“Yes, you did earn everything you’ve got, Tim,” Graham said. “But his is a day that’s been long in the making and I’m very proud to see it come.”
Scott’s appointment puts him in the Senate through the 2014 election. He made it clear in the press conference announcing his appointment Monday that’ll he’ll run for a full Senate term at that time.
DeMint, who reportedly pushed for Scott to be appointed as his replacement, was on hand for the press conference, as were many from the state’s Republican congressional delegation. In an official statement, DeMint welcomed his replacement with open arms.
“I’ve known Tim for years and am confident he will serve our state with honor and distinction,” DeMint said. “He’s become a good friend who I know … cares deeply about the future of our nation and will fight to increase freedom and opportunity for everyone.”
Video of Haley’s remarks Monday: