Tim Scott Biography

U.S. Representative(1965–)
Congressman Tim Scott is the seventh African-American citizen to become a U.S. senator. He is also a former U.S. representative for South Carolina's first Congressional District.

Synopsis

Tim Scott was born on September 19, 1965, in North Charleston, South Carolina. Scott was elected to the Charleston County Council in 1995, serving for 13 years. In 2008, he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. Two years later, he won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he represented his home state's first Congressional District. In 2012, Scott was appointed to the U.S. Senate (replacing Junior Senator Jim DeMint), becoming the first southern African-American senator since the late 1800s. He won an election to retain his seat in 2014.

Early Life

Politician Timothy Eugene Scott was born on September 19, 1965, in North Charleston, South Carolina. When Scott was still in grade school, his parents divorced. Scott's father, Ben, was stationed with the Air Force in Colorado for most of Scott's childhood, leaving Scott's mother, a nurse's aide named Frances, to raise him and his siblings on her own.

Scott helped his family make ends meet by working at a Chick-fil-A franchise while struggling to do well in high school. The franchise's owner, John Moniz, became Scott's mentor. A conservative with an academic military background, Moniz convinced Scott that he could use his intelligence and problem-solving skills to become successful. Moniz died of a heart attack when Scott was in his senior year. To cope with the loss, Scott focused on implementing Moniz' inspirational advice.

By his high school graduation, Scott had improved his grades and stepped up his game enough to qualify for a partial football scholarship to Presbyterian College. Eventually, he transferred to Charleston Southern University, graduating in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in political science.

Business Success

Before Scott broke into politics, he embarked on a successful business career. He became the owner of the Tim Scott Allstate Insurance Company, one of the most successful Allstate branches in his home state. Scott was also a partner of the Pathway Real Estate Group prior to transitioning to a political career in the mid-1990s.

Historical Appointment

Scott took his first stab at politics in 1995, when he ran for Charleston County Council and won. He went on to serve as a councilman for more than a decade, leaving his post in 2009 after winning election to the South Carolina House of Representatives. Early into his service as a state representative, Scott was appointed chairman of the House Whip and the Freshman Caucus.

In 2010, Scott ran as a Republican nominee against Paul Thurmond (son of Strom Thurmond) for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, and won. In January, Scott took his seat in Congress—becoming the first African-American Republican congressman from the South since the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era—representing South Carolina's 1st Congressional District.

Following the election, the Congressional Black Caucus invited Scott to become a member. He declined, explaining, "My campaign was never about race."

In 2012, Scott was viewed as a possible replacement for Senator Jim DeMint, who was getting ready to resign from the U.S. Senate in order to head up the Heritage Foundation. Scott faced off against several impressive candidates, including Jenny Sanford, Trey Gowdy, Henry McMaster and Catherine Templeton. When Scott was selected by Governor Nikki Haley for DeMint's coveted spot, it afforded him the illustrious distinction of becoming the first southern African-American senator to hold office since the late 1800s. His appointment also made him the seventh black person to become a senator.

Tea Party Speech and Senate Win

In January 2013, the new junior senator attended the South Carolina Tea Party Convention in Myrtle Beach and was received with a hero's welcome. During his speech to his primarily Caucasian audience, he addressed backlash from the NAACP with the following statement: "I love civil rights. I just want civil rights for everyone. I know you're not racist, your positions are valid, and it's the other side that plays favorites." 

Also at the Tea Party Convention, Scott voiced his opposition any changes to the Second Amendment by President Barack Obama. He warned Obama that "You can’t use an executive order to amend the Second Amendment on guns.” In addition to giving Scott a standing ovation, the audience buzzed over who would fill his former congressional seat, with moderate Republican Mark Sanford ultimately winning a special election.

More than a year later, in November of 2014, Scott won a special election held in order for him to hold his Senate seat until January 2017. Scott thus became the first African American to be elected to both bodies of Congress.

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