NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina voters on Tuesday elected the first black Republican to Congress from the Deep South since Reconstruction.
State Rep. Tim Scott easily defeated perennial Democratic candidate Ben Frasier and five third-party candidates to win the 1st District seat left vacant by the retirement of Republican U.S. Rep. Henry Brown.
Scott will be the nation’s first black GOP congressman since Oklahoma’s J.C. Watts retired in 2003.
The district, once represented by Gov. Mark Sanford, reaches from the sea islands south of Charleston, through the city where the Civil War began and north along the coast to the Myrtle Beach area.
The 45-year-old Scott swamped his opponents in fundraising, spending almost $725,000 during the election cycle to less than $20,000 for his November opponents. The conservative businessman, who owns an insurance agency, picked up the endorsements of tea party groups and former GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
In 2008, Scott was elected to the Legislature, becoming the first black Republican lawmaker in the state in more than a century. He said his candidacy shows how the state has evolved over the years.
He served 13 years on Charleston County Council and was honorary chairman of one of political icon Strom Thurmond’s Senate re-election bids. Raised in poverty in North Charleston, Scott’s single mother, Frances, worked 16 hours a day raising Scott and his brother.
After winning a nine-way Republican primary, Scott became the heavy favorite to win the seat in a district that has not elected a Democrat in 30 years.
In the primary, Scott defeated Carroll Campbell III, the son of the late popular South Carolina governor and then, in the runoff, defeated Thurmond’s son, Paul.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.