Tim Scott: From County Council to U.S. Senate in Four Years
Recognized as a minority leader in the GOP, congressman is likely best known for conservative credentials.
It has been a swift climb from County Council to U.S. Senate chambers for Congressman Tim Scott, but it comes after 16 years in politics and a lifetime of struggle and success in North Charleston.
Appointed Monday to be the next U.S. Senator from South Carolina, Scott summed up his own biography in brief comments on the national stage at the 2012 GOP Convention in Tampa back in August.
Scott said he was the son of a single mother, Frances Scott, who believed in tough love. And, as he will often do at speaking engagements, Scott thanked his mentor, John Moniz. Moniz, a local Chick-fil-A owner, greatly impacted the young Scott's conservative thinking.
"He taught me I could think my way out of poverty," Scott told the crowd. "He taught me that having a job is a good thing, but creating jobs was even better."
A graduate of Charleston Southern University, Scott created a successful business as an insurance salesman, but his future seemed destined to be in politics.
Every step of the way, Scott has brought a new face to the Republican Party with his presence as an African-American, but also with his stern commitment to conservative principals.
S.C. Rep. Samuel Rivers, an African-American Republican who was elected in November to fill a new S.C. House District 15 seat, said Scott has always focused on constiuents and values. "He's always been in it for the people," Rivers said.
Scott was first elected to the Charleston County Council in a special election in 1995 to replace Keith Summey, who resigned to run for mayor of North Charleston.
Mayor Summey called Monday a great day for North Charleston and South Carolina.
"I have had the pleasure of working with Representative Scott for many, many years, and have learned that at his core, it is the community and his fellow South Carolinians that he works for every day," Summey said.
While on County Coucnil, Scott was closely tied to the decision to hang a plaque with the 10 Commandments outside of council chambers. The plaque would eventually be removed amidst legal challenges from the American Civil Liberties Union.
But Scott's 12 years on the council also included an active role in economic development and a rise to chairman in 2007. Former County Council member Curtis Bostic remembered the ease with which Scott filled a leadership role on council.
"One of the strongest attributes he brings to the game is beringing people together," Bostic said Monday.
In 2008, Scott filled a vacant state House seat in District 117, which is split between North Charleston and portions of Berkeley County.
Scott worked closely with House Speaker Bobby Harrell, but U.S. Congressman Henry Brown's decision to retire in 2010 created a wide field of applicants for the District 1 seat in the GOP Primary.
The campaign included politicians with statewide name recognition, important in a district that stretched at the time from Myrtle Beach to Charleston. They included Paul Thurmond, son of U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, and Carroll Campbell III, the son of popular GOP Gov. Carroll Campbell Jr.
Scott would eventually win a runoff against Thurmond and faced limited competition from his Democratic opponent in the general election. With a new district map in 2012 that runs the coast from Charleston to Hilton Head, Scott defeated Democratic challenger Bobbie Rose in November.
Scott received a lot of attention during the 2012 GOP Presidential Primary with town hall events that he hosted with nearly all of the GOP candidates, including eventual nominee Mitt Romney. Scott never endorsed in the primary, but campaigned for Romney in the general election.
In his limited time in Congress, Scott has remained focused on exactly what Moniz taught him: job creation and protecting busness owners.
Last fall, Scott took a "Regulation Tour," visiting small businesses in the Charleston area who say they're impacted negatively by federal officials.
"We're getting an education from the people living underneath the regulations," Scott said at the time. "It gives me more passion and energy to fight the good fight in D.C."
Scott also joined the Take Back Rally in Greenville earlier this year and led the crowd in an enthusiastic performance of "Hit the Road Jack." (See attached video)