The Corner

Tim Scott Rises

Sen. Jim DeMint and Nikki Haley are not the only stars in South Carolina. Tim Scott, a 45-year-old Republican state legislator running in the 1st congressional district, is another Palmetto State conservative with a rising national profile. Scott, who has been endorsed by the Club for Growth and Sarah Palin, first gained notice in June when he beat Strom Thurmond’s son in the GOP primary. If he wins this fall, Scott will be first black Republican in Congress since J. C. Watts.

Scott, one of 14 black Republicans nominated for the House this cycle, tells National Review Online that he is confident the GOP can continue to make inroads with black voters in the Deep South. “I think our entrepreneurial message sells well,” he says. “We also have to be on top of the educational issue of choice. Basic conservatism works really well in the African-American community — we just have to make sure that we’re going into the community to ask for their vote.”

Scott says that the issues in his district are similar to those that are shaping races across the country. “Jobs and the economy are so important,” he tells us. “That is probably the biggest issue.” A close runner-up, he adds, is voters’ desire to have “trust and confidence again in their public officials.”

That message is resonating. “We have a great coalition of folks,” Scott says. “Tea-party folks are involved, conservative African Americans are involved. We are putting together a coalition based upon one simple philosophy: that it is not about Democrats or Republicans but about the people that we hope to serve and what’s in their best interests.”

To make gains and flourish, Scott says, the GOP must innovate and commit to being an “ideas” party, “bringing the best thinkers to the table.” The party’s “Pledge to America,” he says, is a “great framework,” but it “must go further.”

The House GOP is listening:

Republicans in Congress are eager to welcome Scott for what they project as a potential GOP takeover of the House in November. Scott talks to House Republican leader John Boehner often. He and party Whip Eric Cantor speak every other week, and chief candidate recruiter Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California “is on speed dial.”

“Overall I like the pledge, but nothing can cover everything, nor should it,” Scott says. “I like how it puts a major emphasis on the constitutional aspect of legislation — making sure that bills are linked to the Constitution. I like that a lot.” Should he make it to Washington, Scott says that he will make sure to remember that effective representation is “not only about running well, but governing well, and making sure that we keep our promises.”

In the meantime, Scott is hustling around his district, doing what he can to ensure a victory next month against Democrat Ben Frasier, a perennial candidate. “At this point, it comes down to executing well,” Scott says, drifting into football jargon. “It comes down to blocking and tackling consistently. In the fourth quarter, you can get kind of tired, so the goal is to run hard to the end: mobilizing our volunteers and hitting the doors again.”

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