Tim Scott heading back to US Senate as bigger ambitions loom

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Tim Scott won reelection Tuesday to what he has said is a final six-year term from South Carolina, but the only Black Republican in the Senate may have bigger future political ambitions.

Scott beat Democratic state Rep. Krystle Matthews for a second full term. He was appointed the U.S. Senate in 2013 by then Gov. Nikki Haley when Jim DeMint resigned and also won a special election.

Scott, 57, has spent about as much time helping other Republicans as he has campaigning in 2022. He released a memoir called “America, A Redemption Story,” where he tells his story of being raised by a single mother and his rise as a Black Republican in South Carolina.

Scott celebrated his win and didn’t say what the future holds, but he winked a little at it by telling the story of how he took his grandfather to the polls in 2012 and he voted for his grandson and Democrat Barack Obama — a proud ballot cast for the first Black president.

“I wish he had lived long enough to see perhaps another man of color elected president of the United States,” Scott said, pausing for a moment. “But this time let it be a Republican.”

Scott said Tuesday that his victory shows the American dream is still alive and that a Black man can rise from poverty to the top levels of the Republican party.

“For those of you that wonder if we can ever have a country where we are judged by the content of our character and not simply by the color of our skin, wonder no more,” Scott said.

Scott has remained coy about any plans beyond winning reelection. He has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2024, or later, depending on how the field shapes up. Scott has made several trips to Iowa and other states that get an early say in the presidential nomination process.

Scott is the U.S. Senate’s only Black Republican. He is one of the Republican Party’s best fundraisers and got a primetime speech at the 2020 Republican National Convention.

In his speech thanking supporters Scott struck an optimistic tone, promising that Republicans would tame inflation and be the party of strength and economic empowerment. He urged his supporters to ignore people who want to fill them with fear that the country is no longer working.

“We will restore peace to the American psyche. And faith in our fellow Americans, left or right. Black or white, Red ot blue. Poor or rich. We are one American family,” Scott said.

Scott began his general election campaign in the summer with $25 million in the bank and still had $21 million a month before the election. Matthews has raised $133,00 for her primary and general election run.

Matthews’ campaign struggled. Much of the attention was on a series of conversations that were taped without Matthews’ knowledge and released by Project Veritas, a group calling itself a media organization though it relies on tactics — including sting operations — that are not widely accepted media practices.

In the tapes, which Matthews has acknowledged, the Black Democrat said she keeps white voters “under my thumbs” and suggested she should fund her campaign with “dope boy money,” which she said was a joke.

Several Democrats, including South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Joe Cunningham, condemned Matthews.

Matthews also lost her bid for a third term in the South Carolina House, after Republican-dominated redistricting put more likely GOP voters into her district in Berkeley and Charleston counties.

In his 2014 special election and 2016 election to a first full term, Scott has faced a Black Democrat and won by at least 60% of the vote.

Democrats haven’t won a U.S. Senate race in South Carolina since Ernest “Fritz” Hollings was reelected to his final term in 1998.

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