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UPDATE 4-Rep. Scott to replace DeMint, will be only black in US Senate
* First-term U.S. Representative Tim Scott chosen by SouthCarolina governor * Leaves Republicans without a black House member * Senate seat up for special election in 2014 (Adds context in last four paragraphs) CHARLESTON, S.C., Dec 17 (Reuters) - First-term RepublicanU.S. Representative Tim Scott will fill the U.S. Senate seatbeing vacated by arch-conservative Jim DeMint of South Carolina ...
* First-term U.SRepresentative Tim Scott chosen by South
* Leaves Republicans without a black House member
* Senate seat up for special election in 2014
(Adds context in last four paragraphs)
CHARLESTON, S.C., Dec 17 (Reuters) - First-term Republican
U.SRepresentative Tim Scott will fill the U.SSenate seat
being vacated by arch-conservative Jim DeMint of South Carolina,
becoming the only African-American in the Senate and the first
since President Barack Obama.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley on Monday chose Scott to
replace their fellow Republican and become the first black
senator from the South since the late 1800s.
Speculation had centered on Scott, 47, as the likely
replacement since DeMint announced on Dec6 that he was
stepping down from the Senate in order to head the Heritage
Foundation, a conservative think tank.
But Scott's departure from the House, coupled with the
defeat of fellow conservative Allen West of Florida on Nov6,
will leave the Republicans without a black representative in the
lower chamber of Congress.
More than nine out of 10 African-American voters supported
the Democrat Obama in the Nov6 election, but it is a
Republican who becomes the only black in the Senate, the first
black Republican since Edward WBrooke III of Massachusetts
lost his seat in 1978.
Scott won his House seat in 2010 by defeating Paul Thurmond,
the son of Strom Thurmond, the long-serving South Carolina
Republican Senator who ran on a segregationist ticket for
president in 1948.
Scott will serve through 2014, when a special election will
be held two years earlier than would have been required had
DeMint decided to serve out his termHaley predicted Scott
would "sail through" the 2014 election.
A special election will be held in May to fill Scott's House
of Representatives seat.
Scott's appointment keeps DeMint's seat in Republican hands,
but Democrats will hold control 55-45 when the new Senate meets
TAX REFORM AND SPENDING CONTROLS
Attending the announcement by Haley at the state Capitol in
Columbia along with DeMint, Scott said: "Our nation needs some
Questioning where the country is going fiscally, Scott said
that his work would center on tax reform and spending controls.
"We have a spending problem in America ..You could take
all the revenue from the top 2 percent and you simply could not
close the annual deficitThat's a challenge," he added.
DeMint congratulated Haley on her choice, describing Scott
as "a principled leader" who "will make an outstanding senator
for the people of South Carolina and an important voice for
conservatives across the nation."
DeMint, 61, said Scott has inspired him since the first time
he heard him speak in public"There is a way out of this
quagmire we've got in Washington, and you've got great ideas,"
DeMint said to Scott"What the federal government is doing is
likely to end up with some kind of meltdown."
Scott was elected to the U.SHouse of Representatives in
2010 with support from the fiscally conservative Tea Party
movement that also helped Haley win the governor's office that
year for the Republican party.
A real estate company owner prior to being elected to
Congress, Scott served on the Charleston County Council for 13
years, and in the South Carolina House of Representatives for
Scott, who represents a coastal district that includes
Charleston, has been one of the most conservative members of
CongressHe sponsored legislation to repeal the Affordable Care
Act, known as "Obamacare," opposed raising the nation's debt
limit and supported DeMint's fiscal "cut, cap and balance"
DeMint, a leading voice in the modern American conservative
movement who has riled fellow Republicans as well as Democrats,
surprised both parties when he announced his retirement.
First elected to the Senate in 2004 after six years in the
House of Representatives, DeMint was re-elected in 2010 by a
Last year, DeMint was a founder of the Senate Tea Party
Caucus, which now has four membersThree more Tea Party
favorites were elected to the Senate.
His resignation came only two days after he won praise from
hard-liners by ripping into one of the top Republicans, Speaker
of the House of Representatives John Boehner.
The 61-year-old South Carolinian, who preaches the value of
small government and freely criticizes fellow Republicans,
blasted Boehner for violating a long-time Party taboo: proposing
increased revenue as part of a deficit-reduction plan.
DeMint's small-government views became especially popular in
recent years with the rise of the fiscally conservative Tea
That movement suffered some big losses in last month's
election, however, when Obama won a second term as president and
the Republicans failed to win back the Senate.
"The reason I'm leaving the Senate is I believe that this
idea of taking the case to the American people is something that
I can do much more effectively from the Heritage Foundation
knowing that my seat is filled by someone who's going to take
the stands that we need to in the Senate," DeMint said.
Founded in 1973, the Heritage Foundation, a few blocks from
the U.SCapitol, is one of the nation's leading think tanks.
With 700,000 members, it has helped shape the debate in
Washington for years.
(Additional reporting by Samuel PJacobs in Washington;
Editing By David Adams, Eric Walsh, Alden Bentley and Gunna
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