NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (AP) - An African-American insurance business owner has become the GOP's nominee for an open congressional seat in South Carolina.
Tim Scott's win on Tuesday puts him on a path to become the nation's first black GOP congressman since 2003 when Oklahoma's J.C. Watts retired.
Scott beat Paul Thurmond, son of South Carolina's late Sen. Strom Thurmond, in a GOP runoff in the state's 1st District along the coast. Scott received 68 percent of the votes compared to 32 percent for Thurmond.
Shortly after Scott was declared the winner Thurmond announced his support for his former opponent. During his speech to supporters Tuesday night Thurmond encouraged them to rally behind Scott as well.
"Amen, Amen, Amen," Scott told his mother as he hugged her shortly after he arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn in North Charleston. "We're only half way there though."
At around 9 p.m. Scott addressed his supporters and called his mother a 'hero.'
Also in the crowd, Scott's 89-year old grandfather who Scott said gave him inspiration to get out of bed.
"We're going to work very hard, very diligently, talking about limited government because you need the money more than we need the money," he told the crowd.
Scott said there needs to be fundamental tax restructuring and government spending must be lowered.
"Every day Americans need the money back in the pockets," he said.
Scott used his mother as an example who he said worked 16 hours a day to keep the family off welfare.
"Worse thing you can do in a bad economy is raise taxes," Scott said.
Thurmond said he was proud of the race he ran. He said he was fair and honest on the campaign trail, which is something he does not regret.
"Inevitably, I'll look back on this and try to learn from it," Thurmond said, "I believe everything happens for a reason. God has a plan for me. If this was not the plan, hopefully I'll find out soon enough which way he wants me to go. Tonight was not the opportunity, but whenever one door closes another opens."
Thurmond said he'll return to practicing law, serving the people of Charleston County and spending time with his family.
Scott, 44, becomes a heavy favorite in a district that has elected a Republican congressman for three decades. Scott, 44, was the first black Republican in the South Carolina legislature in more than a century when elected in 2008. Before that, he served 13 years on Charleston County Council.
Scott will face Democrat Ben Frasier, who also is black, in November. He is strongly favored to win. The district, which is 72 percent white, has sent a Republican to Congress for three decades.