First it was Tim Scott and now we’ve got “Mo.” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick on Wednesday appointed William “Mo” Cowan, a lawyer, longtime friend and former aide, to serve as the interim U.S. senator until voters elect John Kerry’s replacement in a June special election. Cowan, a 43-year-old Democrat, will become the state’s first black senator since Edward Brooke, a Republican, who held the seat from 1966 to 1978. Cowan’s appointment also makes him the second black member to be seated in the current Senate. Scott, a Republican representing South Carolina, was appointed by Gov.Nikki Haley in December. Scott will have to campaign in a couple of years to keep the seat. Patrick said he wanted to appoint Cowan because they had agreed Cowan would not to run for the seat later, out of concern that it would disrupt his ability to do the job well. “This is going to be a very short political career,” Cowan said in a press conference Wednesday. (New York Times)
Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has been appointed to fill a soon-to-be vacated Senate seat. This will make him only the seventh African American to become a U.S. Senator. Since he's filling out a term, he faces re-election in 2014. Getty Image
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Tim Scott is a black Republican.
And in spite of whatever unflattering connotations the label might carry for some in the black community, the 47-year-old South Carolina congressman and soon-to-be U.S. senator is making history. Scott will be the only African American serving in the U.S. Senate and the only one from the South since the 19th century.
And it's not the first time Scott's made history: as a member of the House, Scott was the first black Republican elected in South Carolina since 1901.
But, who is this guy? For starters, he grew up in poverty and was raised by a single mom, after his parents divorced when he was 6. During his 2010 bid for Congress, he described himself as a lost child who struggled with school until a Chick-fil-A franchise owner helped him turn his life around and instilled in him conservative principles.
On Monday, when South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced his appointment to the soon-to-be vacated Senate seat held by Jim DeMint, Scott said race doesn't play a role in how he fulfills his duties as lawmaker.
"I've never heard on the campaign trail, 'Besides the fact you're black or because you're black, here's what we want of you.' They asked me questions about values and issues, and that's an amazing thing. It speaks to the evolution of South Carolina and our nation," Scott told reporters outside of the South Carolina statehouse after the announcement.
Scott will serve out the remaining two years of DeMint's term and will then face re-election in the 2014 midterms.
In addition to serving in Congress, Scott owns an insurance agency and has worked as a financial advisor, The Associated Press reports. He is unmarried.
There’s one more thing about him. He doesn’t like President Barack Obama, another of the gang of six African Americans to serve in the U.S. Senate. During the 2012 campaign, Scott served on GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Black Leadership Council.
The glass ceiling that most African American politicians seem to face in the U.S. Senate isn’t a new phenomenon. The question is always, “Why don't we have any black senators.” Many answers have been given over the years, but University of Mississippi political science professor Marvin King sums it up most succinctly.
"How come minority members of the House have not transitioned to the Senate the way you see white members transition? One of the answers is the districts they represent tend to be different from the state as a whole,” King told CNN in April. “They tend to represent urban districts with high minority populations."
In other words, white voters don’t necessarily warm up to black senatorial candidates when they campaign outside of their stomping grounds. Even as the country has come very far in race relations and politics, it still struggles with demolishing other barriers to democracy.
The gallery shows Scott and the six other African Americans to serve in the U.S. Senate before him.
For the first time since Reconstruction some 140 years ago, a black person has been tapped to represent a southern state in the U.S. Senate.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has selected Tea-Party Republican and freshman U.S. Rep. Tim Scott to replace U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint. DeMint is retiring from the Senate beginning in January to head the Heritage Foundation, a research group focused on promoting conservative public policies.
Scott, a native of Charleston, S.C., will be the first African American to ever represent South Carolina in the Senate. He also will be the only African American among the Senate’s 100 members.
"Sen. Jim DeMint has led in a way that few others have led," said Scott, who like DeMint is a conservative. "There's no way to fill his shoes."
"It is a great day for South Carolina," said Haley, the first Indian American and woman to lead South Carolina as governor. "It is a historic day for South Carolina." (Los Angeles Times)