The first African-American senator to be elected from the South since reconstruction made dual history Tuesday as Tim Scott (R-S.C.) won the seat to which he was appointed after Jim DeMint’s retirement.
Scott is also the first black senator to be elected in both the House and the Senate.
“South Carolina voters vote their values and their issues and not my complexion. This is a great sign for what’s happening throughout the south. But certainly, a fantastic sign for the evolution that has occurred in South Carolina,” Scott told MSNBC this morning.
His win versus Democrat Joyce Dickerson was overwhelming: 61 percent to 37 percent.
Scott, who has long promoted his “opportunity agenda,” said one of his focuses now will be school choice.
“I’m very interested in creating a foundation of education for those folks in the middle-income arena as well as kids living in poverty, kids like myself who perhaps live in the wrong zip code going to underperforming schools,” he said. “I’d love to give parents the tool of choice. When parents have choice in education, I think their kids have a better chance of success. Had it not been for education, I would not be sitting here today. I think of education as the gateway to the American dream. I want to open that gate wider for kids living in poverty, wider for folks in middle income American who are sandwiched. Think about it, the folks who are taking care of their parents and their kids, they need access to a better education system that sometimes they cannot afford. Why not give more parents choice?”
“That would lead to revolution,” Scott added.
The senator responded to the “F” grade that the NAACP gave him on its legislative scorecard.
“Well, let’s just ask ourselves if we look back over history when the Congress was controlled by the Democrats for 40 consecutive years. If we look at the result of that control what has happened in black America? We saw greater poverty. If we take the statistics from 1970s to the 21st century, what we see very clearly is that poverty’s gone from 11 percent to 15 percent. These are classic examples that the policies of the left have not worked,” Scott said.
“I will tell you that if I have an F on the NAACP’s scorecard, it’s because I believe that progress has to be made, and the government is not the answer for progress.”
Scott’s score from the NAACP was 11 percent for 2013, while his South Carolina colleague Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) got 25 percent. Lawmakers were scored on whether they voted with the official NAACP position.
Fifty-nine percent or lower equals a failing grade on the “Civil Rights Report Card,” which scored votes on reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, Obamacare repeal, private school vouchers, union dues, greenhouse gas emissions, voter ID, subsidized phone service, the UN Arms Trade Treaty, increased gun background checks, an assault weapons ban, food stamps, student loans, immigration, the Employee Non-Discrimination Act, the 2014 budget and various confirmations of Obama nominees.
Cornell William Brooks, president and CEO of the NAACP, said yesterday that Tuesday’s election “was not about who won but rather the citizens who lost the right to participate.”
“This first election post the Shelby v. Holder decision resulted in problems in every single state previously protected by the Voting Rights Act,” Brooks said. “For 49 years, these states were singled out because they had a history of discriminating against American voters. The Election Protection Hotline we manned with other concerned organizations fielded over 18,000 calls yesterday, many in those same states previously protected by the VRA.”
There was no NAACP statement on Scott’s historic victory.