Scott wants to make history about something other than his race
Tim Scott seemed unburdened by history.I can understand why he is winning elections in a conservative district. He supports the conservative agenda and is not embarrassed about it. It is something that many conservatives have looked for, in hopes of defeating the evils of liberalism. He also is demonstrating that conservative values can lead to success for people of any color. That is the history that Democrats will find pretty scary.
He is poised to become the first black Republican elected to Congress from the Deep South in more than a century, having trounced former Senator Strom Thurmond’s son in Tuesday’s Republican primary for South Carolina’s First Congressional District.
And yet when a voter, Carol Kinsman, a retired nurse who is white, greeted him here the other day, saying, “We’re going to make history,” Mr. Scott gently suggested that the color of his skin was not important.
“Our people are more concerned about the issues than anything else,” he told her. Then he quickly turned the subject to economic development and the need to expand the local Interstate.
Mr. Scott, 44, spent 13 years in county government and is in his second year in the South Carolina Legislature. But the national spotlight seemed to find him only Tuesday night. If elected in November — which is likely, given that his Democratic opponent, Ben Frasier, who is also black, is a perennial who has yet to bloom — he will become the only black Republican on Capitol Hill and the first since Representative J. C. Watts of Oklahoma retired in 2003.
“The historic part of this is nice to have — maybe,” he said of winning the Republican nomination, but he said it was also “a distraction.”
It is not hard to see what he means. This heavily Republican district stretches along the seacoast from here to Charleston, taking in many former plantations and including what was the main port of entry for tens of thousands of African slaves. The district is three-fourths white, and voted overwhelmingly for John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008.
But Mr. Scott, a staunch conservative, is a true reflection of its politics.
He believes that President Obama is driving the country toward bankruptcy and socialism. And he has some regard for Mr. Thurmond, at one time a leading segregationist and warrior against civil rights. When Mr. Scott was first elected to the Charleston County Council in 1995, Mr. Thurmond sent him a handwritten note welcoming him to the party. A year later, Mr. Scott became the statewide co-chairman of Mr. Thurmond’s Senate campaign, his last before he retired in 2003 and died the same year at 100.
How could a black man support someone with such a racist past?
“The Strom Thurmond I knew had nothing to do with that,” Mr. Scott said. “I don’t spend much time on history,” he added, noting that Mr. Thurmond had “evolved” by the time Mr. Scott was born, and had become better known, locally anyway, for his extraordinary level of constituent service. Mr. Scott said he hoped to emulate Mr. Thurmond’s attention to constituents, though not his longevity in Washington.
His goals are to shrink government, repeal the new federal health care law and eliminate earmarks, even those that would help his state. In the state legislature, he has co-sponsored an Arizona-style immigration bill, earning him the endorsement of the Minutemen.