Several GOP officials are encouraging South Carolina U.S. Sen. Tim Scott to run for their party’s presidential nomination.
According to POLITICO, U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst said she’s “very excited” about a potential Scott White House bid, while U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and John Barrasso both also offered words of encouragement, with Cornyn saying he would “advise him to go for it” and Barrasso that it “doesn’t get any better than Tim Scott.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a long-time Donald Trump ally, has also expressed intrigue at the possibility noting that he would “bring something to the table on day one” and that he had “one of the most compelling stories,” POLITICO wrote.
While Scott himself has been mostly mum on the prospect, he offers something of an anomaly in a hypothetical Republican field. Scott has maintained his popularity with the Republican establishment, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, but has done so without alienating the Trump wing of the party.
He’s the only Black GOP Senator and offers a rare opportunity to bring diversity to the party’s ballot minus the negatives most recently seen in Herschel Walker’s failed Georgia U.S. Senate bid.
If Scott were to run, he’d no doubt face a tough battle for the nomination. Not only would he face Trump, who announced shortly after the Midterms that he would run for a third time, he’d also face a potential crowd of strong candidates, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis whose strong performance in his 2022 race led a red wave in the Sunshine State that failed to materialize elsewhere in the country and has gained national notoriety.
Plenty of other names could be in the mix, including but not limited to former Vice President Mike Pence, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who could present a particular problem for Scott in his home state and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
There is some writing on the wall for Scott. Jennifer DeCasper, the South Carolina Senator’s former chief of staff, left Washington to launch a consulting firm and traveled the country campaigning for GOP candidates in the Midterms, a signal that coalitions could be building.
During an acceptance speech when he was re-elected this year he hinted at a possible run.
“My grandfather voted for the first man of color to be elected as President of the United States. I wish he had lived long enough to see, perhaps, another man of color elected President of the United States,” Scott said at the time, referring to a Republican the next time around.
Scott also delivered the GOP’s response to Joe Biden’s address to a Congressional joint session in 2021, an opportunity that often elevates federal leaders on the national stage.
Scott has served in the Senate since 2013 when Gov. Haley appointed him to fill a vacancy. He won election in a 2014 Special Election and was re-elected in 2016 and this year. Prior to that he served two years in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District and held stints in the South Carolina General Assembly and on the Charleston County Council.
He’s one of just 11 Black members to serve in the U.S. Senate and only the fourth elected to the chamber from the Republican Party.
His youth experience in South Carolina sets the stage for a compelling story that could generate interest on both sides of the aisle, having grown up in poverty with a working class single mother. His brother also serves in the U.S. Army.
Scott also could mobilize Black voters, with signature legislation creating Opportunity Zones passed as part of the 2017 tax reform package during Trump’s administration.
That legislation provides tax incentives for low-income communities and was billed as a way to increase investment in struggling areas. While it has had plenty of criticism, namely fears that it would spur gentrification and benefit wealthy investors, the effort will likely be touted as a success meant to create, as the name suggests, opportunity for those in areas where it’s hard to reach.
With President Biden expected to seek a second term, a GOP nomination for Scott would give Black voters, many who live in such “opportunity zones” a person of color option on the ballot.