South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley named Rep. Tim Scott to the U.S. Senate on Monday, saying her appointment makes for “a historic day in South Carolina.”
With Haley’s announcement, Scott, a congressman from Charleston since 2011, becomes the first black Republican in the body in more than thirty years and the only African-American to serve in the Senate today.
But Haley – an Indian-American and the state’s first female governor – emphasized that she didn’t choose Scott solely because of the historical nature of his appointment.
“Congressman Scott earned this seat,” Haley said, explaining during a noon press conference that “it’s very important to me as a minority female” to make that clear.
“He earned this seat for the person that he is,” Haley continued. “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.”
Scott is replacing South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, who announced his resignation earlier this month to take over the leadership of the Heritage Foundation.
Under state law, Haley’s appointee will serve until a special election is held in 2014. She expressed support for Scott to win re-election then.
“I have no doubt that he will fly through 2014,” she said. “I am strongly convinced that I and the entire state understands that this is the right U.S. senator for our state and for our country.”
“I have to run for re-election in 2014,” Scott said at the news conference, flanked by Haley, DeMint and other Republicans. “And I look forward to having an opportunity to getting around the state and introducing myself to citizens of this great state of South Carolina.”
Haley, a Republican elected in 2010, had been considering at least five people for the seat, including former first lady Jenny Sanford, Rep. Trey Gowdy, former Attorney General Henry McMaster and state health agency director Catherine Templeton.
Since DeMint announced his resignation from the Senate earlier this month, Scott had been considered a top favorite for the seat.
Though DeMint’s tried downplaying the reports, DeMint was thought to have favored Scott as his replacement.