COLUMBIA, South Carolina (AP) _ The U.S. is getting its first black senator from the South in more than a century. South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley picked U.S. Rep. Tim Scott as the state's next senator Monday.
Scott, the only black Republican in Congress, takes over for Jim DeMint, who announced earlier this month he would forgo the remaining four years of this term to lead The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. His resignation takes effect Jan. 1.
The governor's decision makes Scott the South's first black Republican senator since the Reconstruction period shortly after the Civil War. He'll become only the fourth black Republican in Senate history and the first black senator since former Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was elected president.
His selection culminates an amazingly fast rise through South Carolina politics. Just four years ago, Scott was chairman of the Charleston County Council. In 2008, he became the first black Republican in the South Carolina Legislature in more than a century, and in 2010, won his seat in the U.S. House from his conservative district with 65 percent of the vote.
Scott will serve for two years then face an election in November 2014 should he want to seek a term.
Scott grew up in poverty in North Charleston. His parents divorced when he was 7, and he remembered his mom working 16 hours a day to support him and his brother.
He received a degree in political science from Charleston Southern University, which is affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention and touts how it integrates faith into learning and serving.
Scott said he wouldn't have agreed to be a U.S. senator if he didn't think he could make a difference.
“The future is incredibly bright for America,'' Scott said. “We have our challenges and we have things to overcome, but boy, does the future look bright in South Carolina.''