Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: Appointed Jan. 2013, term expires 2016, 1st term.

Born: September 19, 1965, Charleston

Home: Charleston

Education: Charleston Southern U., B.S. 1988.

Professional Career: Partner, real estate firm; owner, Tim Scott Allstate.

Ethnicity: Black/African American

Religion: Christian

Family: Single

Republican Tim Scott was named South Carolina’s junior senator in January 2013 after GOP Sen. Jim DeMint unexpectedly quit to head the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank. Scott became the Senate’s first black Republican since 1979; he earlier served one term in the U.S. House. He was elected with ease in 2014 to serve the remaining two years of DeMint's term, which expires in 2016, to become the first black GOP lawmaker to be elected statewide in the South since Reconstruction.

Scott and his siblings were raised by a single mother who worked 16-hour days as a nurse’s assistant. Scott got his first job at age 13. He was on the verge of flunking out of high school when he met the man who he says changed his life—John Moniz, the owner of the fast-food Chick-fil-A restaurant next to the movie theater where Scott worked and where he would regularly buy french fries, the only food he could afford. Moniz, who considered himself a born-again Christian, became a father figure for Scott, teaching him the value of personal discipline and hard work. In a speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention, Scott said Moniz taught him that “having a job is a good thing, but creating jobs was even better.” Scott finished high school and went on to earn a partial football scholarship to Presbyterian College. He eventually transferred to Charleston Southern University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science.

Scott ran an insurance company and owned part of a real state agency. His first elected office was a seat on the Charleston County Council in 1995. Just after his election, he received a handwritten note of congratulations from then-Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., who had run for president on a pro-segregation platform in 1948. Thurmond’s past didn’t stop Scott from accepting the job as statewide co-chairman of the late Thurmond’s final senatorial campaign in 1996. Asked how an African-American could help Thurmond, Scott told The New York Times, “The Strom Thurmond I knew had nothing to do with that” and noted that Thurmond’s views on race had evolved. Scott also said that Thurmond taught him the value of constituent service.

In 2010, Scott ran for the 1st District House seat that became vacant with GOP Rep. Henry Brown’s retirement. In the GOP primary, he faced opposition from candidates with better name recognition, including Carroll Campbell III, son of former South Carolina Gov. Carroll Campbell, Jr.; and Paul Thurmond, the former senator’s son. But Scott got help from national Republican organizations. He came in first in the primary, and Thurmond took second, but neither got the necessary 50% to avoid a runoff. There were few differences between the two, although Thurmond did not share Scott’s willingness to abide by term limits and to swear off earmarked spending. Scott claimed that in his 15 years in elected office, he never voted for a tax increase. His conservative credentials won him praise from prominent Republicans such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia. In the runoff election, Scott defeated Thurmond, 68% to 32%. In the general election, he easily beat Democrat Ben Frasier, a retired federal worker, 65% to 29%. His race appeared to be a non-issue for the district’s voters, about 70% of whom were white. He was reelected easily in 2012 with 62%.

As a House member, Scott’s voting record was only marginally less conservative than the rest of South Carolina’s right-learning House delegation. He was not as outspoken as the delegation’s other members or as Florida Republican Rep. Allen West, the chamber’s other black Republican in the 112th Congress (2011-12). But he did join conservatives in refusing to support a 2011 bill to raise the federal debt limit, a 2013 tax and spending compromise to avert a so-called “fiscal cliff,” and several leadership-backed spending bills to keep the government running. Republican leaders professed not to mind; they realized his obvious value to their party and heaped praise on him. “He is leadership personified. He has a lot of magnetism and a lot of charisma,” Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., told National Journal. Scott served as a deputy whip and a freshman-class liaison to the leadership, and he was given a seat on the influential Rules Committee.

The Republicans’ failure to gain control of the Senate in the November 2012 elections was a huge disappointment to the party, but especially to DeMint. He had established himself as a king-maker in recruiting tea party candidates whose credentials pleased the GOP base but who ultimately proved unelectable statewide, sometimes as a result of committing serious gaffes. He announced in December that he would leave to join Heritage rather than finish his second term.

Speculation about who South Carolina GOP Gov. Nikki Haley would appoint revolved around Scott, especially in light of the party’s dismal electoral showing among blacks. Less than two weeks after DeMint’s announcement, Haley, who is Indian-American, chose Scott over four other finalists, a decision she said was based on his devotion to the state and his ability to advocate for it. “It is very important to me, as a minority female, that Congressman Scott earned this seat,” she said. His selection proved extremely popular with Republicans.

Scott joined Republicans in cosponsoring a balanced-budget amendment to the Constitution, saying that President Barack Obama “is committed to spending money we don’t have, our children don’t have, and our grandchildren don’t have.” But he largely eschewed fierce rhetoric, opting instead at times for humor. “When I eat my Häagen-Dazs ice cream,” he joked at a Conservative Political Action Conference gathering about calorie labels, “I want to enjoy those 1,292 calories, and all 100 grams of fat, in one sitting.” 

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-6121

(202) 228-5143

HSOB- Hart Senate Office Building Room 520
Washington, DC 20510

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-6121

(202) 228-5143

HSOB- Hart Senate Office Building Room 520
Washington, DC 20510

DISTRICT OFFICE

(843) 727-4525

(855) 802-9355

2500 City Hall Lane Third Floor
North Charleston, SC 29406

DISTRICT OFFICE

(843) 727-4525

(855) 802-9355

2500 City Hall Lane Third Floor
North Charleston, SC 29406

DISTRICT OFFICE

(864) 233-5366

(855) 802-9355

104 South Main Street Suite 803
Greenville, SC 29601

DISTRICT OFFICE

(864) 233-5366

(855) 802-9355

104 South Main Street Suite 803
Greenville, SC 29601

DISTRICT OFFICE

(803) 771-6112

(855) 802-9355

1301 Gervais Street Suite 825
Columbia, SC 29201

DISTRICT OFFICE

(803) 771-6112

(855) 802-9355

1301 Gervais Street Suite 825
Columbia, SC 29201

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(888) 683-4846

1405 Ashley River Road
Charleston, SC 29407-5305

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(888) 683-4846

1405 Ashley River Road
Charleston, SC 29407-5305

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Agriculture

Spencer Pederson
Legislative Assistant

Claire Brandewie
Legislative Assistant

John Fogle
Legislative Correspondent

Commerce

Spencer Pederson
Legislative Assistant

William Holloway
Deputy Legislative Assistant

Disaster

Spencer Pederson
Legislative Assistant

Energy

Spencer Pederson
Legislative Assistant

William Holloway
Deputy Legislative Assistant

Environment

Spencer Pederson
Legislative Assistant

William Holloway
Deputy Legislative Assistant

Foreign

John Fogle
Legislative Correspondent

Govt Ops

John Fogle
Legislative Correspondent

Gun Issues

John Fogle
Legislative Correspondent

Health

Kate Hunter
Legislative Correspondent

Claire Brandewie
Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

John Fogle
Legislative Correspondent

Human Rights

John Fogle
Legislative Correspondent

Immigration

William Holloway
Deputy Legislative Assistant

Intelligence

Spencer Pederson
Legislative Assistant

John Fogle
Legislative Correspondent

Judiciary

William Holloway
Deputy Legislative Assistant

Land Use

Spencer Pederson
Legislative Assistant

Native Americans

Spencer Pederson
Legislative Assistant

Recreation

Spencer Pederson
Legislative Assistant

Seniors

Kate Hunter
Legislative Correspondent

Claire Brandewie
Legislative Assistant

John Fogle
Legislative Correspondent

Small Business

Kate Hunter
Legislative Correspondent

Technology

Spencer Pederson
Legislative Assistant

William Holloway
Deputy Legislative Assistant

Telecommunications

Spencer Pederson
Legislative Assistant

William Holloway
Deputy Legislative Assistant

Trade

Spencer Pederson
Legislative Assistant

William Holloway
Deputy Legislative Assistant

Transportation

Spencer Pederson
Legislative Assistant

William Holloway
Deputy Legislative Assistant

Election Results

2012 PRIMARY
Tim Scott
Unopposed
Prior Winning Percentages
House: 2012 (62%), 2010 (65%)

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