COLUMBIA, S.C. — The man who will become the South’s first black Republican senator since Reconstruction said Monday his ascension in politics showed the evolution of his state and the nation.
Congressman Tim Scott was picked by Governor Nikki Haley, a fellow Republican, to take over the seat being vacated by Jim DeMint. Haley, a daughter of Indian immigrants who became South Carolina’s first female and minority governor in 2010, acknowledged making history with her appointment, but she stressed that she picked Scott for his conservative values.
‘‘It is very important to me as a minority female, that Congressman Scott earned this seat, he earned this seat for the person he is, for the results he’s shown,’’ she said.
Scott, 47, will be sworn in Jan. 3 to replace DeMint, who is leaving to lead the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
Scott’s selection culminates a fast rise through South Carolina politics. Just four years ago, he was chairman of the Charleston County Council. The 2008 election made him the first black Republican in the South Carolina Legislature in more than a century, and in 2010, he won his seat in the US House from his conservative coastal district with 65 percent of the vote. He will become only the fourth black Republican in Senate history and the only black Republican in Congress, after Representative Allen West of Florida lost his reelection bid last month.
Outside the State House where Scott spoke, a statue still stands of post-Reconstruction former governor and US senator Ben Tillman, who unapologetically advocated lynching any black who tried to vote. Another statue depicts the late Strom Thurmond, who holds a record for a 24-hour filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1957.
Scott is certain to be front and center when Republicans talk about fiscal matters and other issues vital to the conservative base. Scott grew up in poverty in North Charleston. His parents divorced when he was 7, and he remembered his mother working 16 hours a day to support him and his brother.
‘‘To the single moms out there, don’t give up on your kids. It may get tough. It may be challenging, but all things are truly possible,’’ he said. - ASSOCIATED PRESS
Vt.’s Leahy now third in line of presidential succession
WASHINGTON — Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, is now third in the line of presidential succession.
The Senate late Monday passed a resolution approving Leahy as president pro tempore. He would replace Daniel Inouye, the senator from Hawaii who died Monday. (Obituary, page B14.)
The seven-term Leahy would be third in line to the presidency, behind the vice president and the speaker of the House.
Leahy also is in line to replace Inouye as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The 72-year-old Leahy is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. - ASSOCIATED PRESS
Electoral College vote marks official end to 2012 election
ST. PAUL — Tradition trumped suspense Monday as members of the Electoral College cast the official, final votes in the 2012 presidential election, a constitutional formality on President Obama’s march to a second term.
The rite playing in state capitols involved party luminaries and tireless activists carrying out the will of each state’s voters. The popular vote from state-to-state dictates whether Democratic or Republican electors get the honor, but the outcome is not in doubt.
Obama is on course to get 332 votes to Republican Mitt Romney’s 206, barring defectors known as ‘‘faithless electors.’’
Ceremonies around the country had their share of pomp and electors in red, white, and blue ties. Wisconsin’s electors donned pin-on buttons with photos of the president. A bit of controversy erupted in Arizona, where a few electors voiced doubts that Obama was ‘‘properly vetted as a legitimate candidate for president’’ by raising debunked claims about his birth certificate.
In a ceremony at the State House in Massachusetts, the electors voted unanimously to reelect Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden. Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat who stumped for the president during the campaign, said during brief remarks that Obama’s reelection was “a thing, in my mind, of great majesty and beauty.”
In New Hampshire, electors supporting Obama signed their four ballots and then certificates that were sealed in envelopes with wax that has been in the secretary of state’s office for more than 70 years.
‘‘It’s been a long haul for all of us,’’ said Secretary of State Bill Gardner, alluding to New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary that sparked intense campaigning there for more than a year. - GLOBE STAFF AND WIRE SERVICES