By Trudy Ring
Originally published on Advocate.com December 17 2012 4:17 PM ET
Tim Scott, the Republican congressman chosen to replace Jim DeMint in the U.S. Senate, appears to be just as antigay as DeMint, although perhaps more measured in expressing his views.
Scott, 47, who is just completing his first term representing South Carolina in the U.S. House, has a zero rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard. The factors in that rating included cosponsorship of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the antigay Defense of Marriage Act; Scott did not agree to cosponsor either bill.
Running for reelection this year, Scott asserted his support for “traditional marriage,” with his campaign website stating, “The institution of marriage is the unity of one man and one woman. Allowing the government to weaken the definition of marriage takes away from our children and we must not allow that to happen.” In South Carolina’s first congressional district, which includes parts of Charleston and extends to the North Carolina border along the state’s coast, Scott easily won reelection with 62% of the vote.
Now, with Gov. Nikki Haley appointing him to fill DeMint’s seat in the Senate, Scott becomes South Carolina’s first African-American U.S. senator as well as the first black Republican senator from the South since the Reconstruction era and the first black Republican senator overall in more than 30 years. The last African-American GOP U.S. senator was Edward Brooke, a liberal Republican from Massachusetts, who served from 1967 to 1979.
Scott’s appointment lasts until 2014, when there will be a special election for the seat. He is a former South Carolina state representative and Charleston City Council member. The son of a single mother, “he was, by his account, a lost child who struggled with school and with life until a Chick-fil-A franchise owner took him on as a protégé and schooled him in conservative principles,” The New York Times reports. As an adult, Scott became an insurance agent and also worked in the real estate business.
Several conservative commentators had touted Scott as an ideal replacement for DeMint, who is resigning from the Senate to head the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank. Earlier this month Fred Barnes of The Weekly Standard wrote that appointing Scott would be “a bold and politically beneficial step” by Haley, adding that “Scott is no Ed Brooke.”
Meanwhile, liberal group People for the American Way, on its Right Wing Watch blog, calls Scott “DeMint’s double” and notes that “like DeMint, he embraces both the Religious Right’s anti-gay, anti-choice social agenda and the Tea Party’s anti-government, anti-tax, anti-regulation agenda.” Another liberal blog, Daily Kos, writes, “While Scott hasn’t been the iconoclast DeMint has (few could be), he’s already put together a reliably conservative profile.” Progressive magazine Mother Jones, while recognizing Scott’s conservatism, comments that “it takes a special kind of crazy to truly replace DeMint,” who among other things has said that LGBT people and sexually active single women are not fit to be teachers. Scott is also more popular with his colleagues than DeMint is, which could make him more dangerous to Democrats, Mother Jones adds.