WASHINGTON — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has chosen Rep. Tim Scott to replace Jim DeMint in the Senate, a move that will make him the first African-American senator in the state’s history, a Republican official said Monday.
Haley was expected to make the formal announcement at a noon news conference in Columbia, S.C., with other members of the state’s congressional delegation in attendance.
Scott, 47, is a tea party-backed conservative who captured his House seat in 2010. He would take office in January after DeMint resigns to take the helm at the Heritage Foundations, a conservative think tank in Washington.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not yet been made.
Scott made history in South Carolina in 2008 when he was elected to the state legislature, the first African-American since Reconstruction. He would be the only black member of the Senate — and the first since Illinois Sen. Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008. He would be the first black Republican in the Senate since former Massachusetts Sen. Edward Brooke left the Senate in 1979 after more than a decade of service.
Scott has been one of two black Republicans in the House. The other, Rep. Allen West of Florida, lost his re-election bid last month.
Scott would face an election in November 2014 should he want to seek a term. That would give South Carolina two Senate elections — one for Scott and the other for two-term Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Associated Press writer Donna Cassata contributed to this report.