What Tim Scott’s 2024 Campaign Could Mean for Black Republicans (2023)


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The South Carolina senator’s bid for the White House — as the sole Black Republican in the Senate — could raise not only his profile, but those of Black conservatives across the country.

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What Tim Scott’s 2024 Campaign Could Mean for Black Republicans (1)

By Maya King

(Video) Tim Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, enters the 2024 GOP primary

Senator Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, addressed the Charleston County Republican Partyat a dinner in February, offering a stirring message of unity and American redemption that has become the center of his stump speech. The next day, he called the chairman of the county party to ask for his support.

Mr. Scott told the chairman that he was considering a presidential run. The chairman, who had planned to endorse former President Donald J. Trump, told the senator he would switch allegiances and back him instead.

The exchange was, in some ways, traditional party politicking as Mr. Scott works to build support in his home county and in his home state. But it also underscored a subtle change shaping G.O.P. politics — both men are Black Republicans.

“I’m pretty locked in helping Senator Scott in every way that I possibly can,” said the former county party leader, Maurice Washington, who stepped down from his role as chairman in April. It was Mr. Washington, Charleston County’s first Black Republican chairman and a longtime ally of Mr. Scott’s, who first encouraged him to run for a county council seat nearly 30 years ago.

Mr. Scott, who plans to formally announce his presidential campaign on Monday, will become one of a handful of Black conservatives to run for president in recent years. Herman Cain made a bid for the White House in 2011 and Ben Carson did so in 2016, but neither garnered widespread support. Mr. Scott will be the second Black conservative to enter the 2024 race: Larry Elder, a talk radio host who ran unsuccessfully for governor in California’s 2021 recall election, announced his long-shot campaign last month.


As a U.S. senator and a former member of the House of Representatives with roughly $22 million in campaign funds, Mr. Scott will begin as more of a contender than most of his predecessors, and he will be one of the best-funded candidates in the 2024 presidential primary. His support is currently in the low single digits, according to public polling. But his candidacy could raise not only his profile, but those of Black conservatives across the country.

Black Republicans are a small group of voters and politicians who say they often feel caught in the middle — ignored and subtly discriminated against by some Republicans, ridiculed and ostracized by many Democrats. Those elected to office have expressed frustration that they are viewed not simply as conservatives but as Black conservatives, and they often decry what they describe as the Democratic obsession with identity politics.

“I think the commonality of virtually all Black conservatives is that we don’t think we’re victims,” said Mr. Elder, who has emphasized his roots in both California and the segregated South. “We don’t believe we’re oppressed. We don’t believe that we’re owed anything.” He and Mr. Scott share a belief in “hard work and education and self-improvement,” Mr. Elder added. “So it would not surprise me that he and I are saying the same things, if not in different ways.”

(Video) GOP Sen. Tim Scott announces 2024 presidential bid

Other Black Republicans have won state races and primariessincethe 2022 midterms. On Tuesday, Daniel Cameron defeated a well-funded opponent in Kentucky’s Republican primary for governor. Mr. Cameron, the first Black man to be elected attorney general in Kentucky, is the Trump-endorsed protégé of Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader. Last year, a record number of Black Republican candidates ran for state offices. With Mr. Scott in the Senate and four Republicans in the House, there are now five Black Republicans in Congress — the most in more than a century.


Still, the number of Black Republicans who won seats last year is a fraction of the total number who ran for state and local office under the G.O.P. — more than 80. And the Republican Party’s inroads with Black candidates have yet to overcome enduring feelings of distrust among Black voters toward the party. The ascension of Black Republicans such as Mr. Scott and Mr. Cameron comes against the backdrop of a Republican Party that has largely stood by as some of its members have employed overtly racist rhetoric and behavior.

Shermichael Singleton, a Black Republican strategist and a former senior adviser to Mr. Carson, said that he spent a lot of time in 2016 determining how Mr. Carson’s hyper-conservative campaign message could remain in step with the party line without alienating critical voting groups. The challenge was twofold: overcoming Black voters’ negative perceptions about Republicans while building a winning coalition that could include some of them.

“It’s just more unique and more challenging if you’re a Black person because of our unique experiences politically and the distrust that most of us have for both parties, but the overwhelming distrust that we have is for Republicans,” Mr. Singleton said. “Because they are perceived as being anti-progressive on race.”

Much of the party’s base and its presidential contenders have become focused on opposing all things “woke,” using the term as a catchall pejorative for the broader push for equity and social justice. In the party’s embrace of being anti-woke, several Republican-led state legislatures have aimed to ban books written by Black authors and limit conversations about slavery, the civil rights movement and systemic racism in the classroom and elsewhere.

For many in the Republican Party, its members of color are proof of its inclusivity. The success of a candidate like Mr. Scott — the first Black Republican to represent South Carolina in the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction — helps in part to rebut claims that the G.O.P. is inherently racist or, more broadly, that systemic racism remains an issue in America, Republicans say.

In speeches, Mr. Scott has criticized the “victim mentality” he believes exists in American culture, and has blamed the left for using racial issues as a means of further dividing the electorate. Mr. Elder said racism “has never been a less important factor in American life than today.”


(Video) Tim Scott's mic fails as he launches 2024 presidential campaign

“What Black Republicans have to do is they either have to lean all in and just be an unapologetic, uncritical supporter for where the Republican Party is now, or they have to find a way to walk that tightrope of not alienating the party, but also not alienating their community,” said Leah Wright Rigueur, an associate professor of history at Johns Hopkins University. “Somebody like Scott has to find a space to navigate those worlds.”

J.C. Watts, who was the first Black Republican to represent Oklahoma in Congress, said he believed Mr. Scott could be “a great asset” to the party’s presidential primary, based on his personal experiences. “Whether or not the party listens,” he added, “that’s something else.”

“He will have some that will try to force him to be ‘the Black Republican,’” Mr. Watts continued. “While I don’t think you should run from being Black, or run from being conservative, some will try to force him to play that role.”

Nathan Brand, Mr. Scott’s spokesman, pointed to the senator’s remarks at the dinner in Charleston in February, in which he acknowledged “the devastation brought upon African Americans” before extolling America as “defined by our redemption” — themes that have formed the base of his campaign message. The campaign declined to comment further.

Like many Black Republicans, Mr. Scott has been reluctant to discuss race as it relates to his party, preferring to focus on policy matters. In recent years, however, he has been called on to weigh in further. In 2020, he was the lead Republican in negotiations on failed police reform legislation.

The senator was also a leading conservative voice against Mr. Trump’s comments about a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, when the president said there were people to blame on “both sides.” Mr. Scott’s criticisms later spurred Mr. Trump to invite him to the White House.

After a series of police killings in the summer of 2016, Mr. Scott gave a detailed speech on the Senate floor about instances when he was racially profiled by law enforcement, including by U.S. Capitol Police. These were moments, he said, when he “felt the pressure applied by the scales of justice when they are slanted.”

Now, as he becomes a presidential candidate and the nation’s highest-ranking Black Republican, Mr. Scott will likely have to answer questions about how he and the rest of his party navigate a tenuous relationship with Black voters.

“It could be a little bit of a problem to me down the road,” said Cornelius Huff, the Republican mayor of Inman, S.C., who is Black. “You have to have somebody in the family that calls it what it is and straightens those things out.”

At a recent town hall in New Hampshire, Mr. Scott told a mostly white audience of supporters that he saw an opportunity to increase the party’s gains with voters of color, particularly men. Despite winning re-election by more than 25 points in 2022, Mr. Scott lost to or narrowly defeated his Democratic challenger in nearly all of South Carolina’s predominantly Black counties. Policy conversations about school choice and economic empowerment, he said, could create an opening with men of color, a group that polling shows has been more open to supporting the Republican Party in recent election cycles.

“When we go where we’re not invited, we have conversations with people who may not vote for us,” Mr. Scott said at the event. “We earn their respect. If we earn their respect long enough, we earn their vote. What is disrespectful is to show up 90 days before an election and say, ‘We want your vote.’”

The senator appeared to be speaking to a common grievance among Black voters that Democrats often count on and court their votes before major elections, and then fail to deliver on their policy promises. Yet, even as some Black voters bemoan what they see as Democrats’ empty promises on the issues they care most about, they remain the party’s most loyal constituency. More than 90 percent of Black voters voted for President Biden in 2020.

Mr. Washington, 62, the former Charleston County Republican chairman, helped found South Carolina State University’s Republican Club while in school there nearly four decades ago. Though he has run for office as a Democrat before, Mr. Washington says his values, and those of many in Black communities, are more conservative and thus more aligned with Republican values. The weeks after Mr. Scott starts his campaign will amount to a waiting game, he added.

“Let’s see what happens,” Mr. Washington said. “We’ll know sooner rather than later whether or not that message of unity, of working hard towards rebuilding trust in our nation — in America and its citizenry and in its race relations — is going to be one that is embraced or rejected.”

(Video) SHENANIGANS! Republican Sen. Tim Scott Announces 2024 Presidential Run | Roland Martin

Maya King is a politics reporter covering the South. Prior to joining The Times, she was a national political reporter at Politico, where she covered the 2020 presidential election. @mayaaking

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(Video) Sen. Tim Scott makes it official: He's a Republican candidate for president

Continue reading the main story


What does Tim Scott believe? ›

I am a strong supporter of our traditional conservative values. I believe that government should be protecting our right to religious freedom, not assaulting it.

Who is the black Republican running for president? ›

Tim Scott, Republican

Scott, 57, formally announced his candidacy on May 22 at his alma mater Charleston Southern University. Scott, South Carolina's first Black senator and the Senate's sole Black Republican, shared an optimistic message of faith in the American dream as he launched his campaign.

What is the meaning of the black Republican? ›

'Black Republican' , a pejorative name applied to abolitionist members of the Republican Party (United States) before the Civil War; see History of the Republican Party (United States) § Beginnings: 1854–1860.

Who is Tim Scott running for president? ›

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott announced his run for the Republican presidential nomination Monday morning in North Charleston, S.C. The senator, who has represented South Carolina in the Senate since 2013, portrays himself as a true conservative with a positive story to tell.

Who was the first black Republican senator? ›

Hiram Rhodes Revels (left) was the first African American to serve in the U.S. Senate; Carol Moseley Braun was the first African-American woman elected to the chamber.

What is the political view of South Carolina? ›

South Carolina is a largely conservative, Republican state.

Who is the only black Republican congressman? ›

Tim Scott
Succeeded byElliott Summey
Personal details
BornTimothy Eugene Scott September 19, 1965 North Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
31 more rows

Who is the famous black president? ›

When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, he became the first African American to hold the office.

Who was the first black man elected president? ›

In 2009, Barack Obama became the first Black-American presidential candidate nominated by a major party, namely the Democrats. He was the first Black-American to be elected (and re-elected) president of the United States. In 2021, Kamala Harris is the first Black and Indian-American vice president of the United States.

When was the first black Republican? ›

One hundred and fifty years ago, on February 25, 1870, visitors in the packed Senate galleries burst into applause as Senator-elect Hiram Revels, a Republican from Mississippi, entered the Chamber to take his oath of office.

What does black represent in politics? ›

It is used in contrast of national flags, to instead represent universal anarchism. Black is also used to a lesser extent to represent ideologies on the opposite end of the spectrum: fascism (see blackshirts and Schutzstaffel) and jihadism (see Black Standard).

What is the definition of black conservative? ›

In the United States, black conservatism is a political and social movement rooted in communities of African descent that aligns largely with the American conservative movement, including the Christian right. Black conservatism emphasizes social conservatism, traditionalism, patriotism, capitalism, and free markets.

Is Tim Scott in the Congressional Black Caucus? ›

Representative J. C. Watts of Oklahoma (1995–2003) Representative Allen West of Florida (2011–2013) Senator & Representative Tim Scott of South Carolina (2011–present)

What is the office of president succession? ›

Vice president of the United States

If the vice president is not able to fulfill the duties of president, the role is passed to another leader in the order of presidential succession.

Who is the first black millionaire? ›

Madam C.J.

Walker (1867-1919), who started life as a Louisiana sharecropper born to formerly enslaved parents in 1867, is usually cited as the first Black millionaire.

Who was the first black Democrat? ›

Black people were a majority of the population in many congressional districts across the South. In 1870, Joseph Rainey of South Carolina was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first directly elected black member of Congress to be seated.

Who was the first black American in Congress? ›

A freeman his entire life, Hiram Rhodes Revels was the first African American to serve in the U.S. Congress. With his moderate political orientation and oratorical skills honed from years as a preacher, Revels filled a vacant seat in the United States Senate in 1870.

Is North Carolina blue or red? ›

In the three presidential elections since 2008, Indiana and North Carolina went back to supporting Republicans.

Is South Carolina a white state? ›

South Carolina Demographics

White: 66.51% Black or African American: 26.45%

Is South Carolina a nice place to live? ›

South Carolina was the 3rd most popular state to move to, and for good reason! With a mild climate, mouthwatering food, and a myriad of outdoor activities, people are falling in love with the Palmetto State.

How many blacks served in Congress? ›

The United States House of Representatives has had 157 elected African-American members, of whom 151 have been representatives from U.S. states and 6 have been delegates from U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

How many Black men have been in Congress? ›

Sixty-two of the 186 African Americans who have served in Congress are current Members—59 in the House and three in the Senate. In total, there have been 176 Black Members of the House of Representatives and eleven Senators. One has served in both chambers.

How many Black people have been in Congress over time? ›

Sixty years ago, there were only four Black members in Congress, all serving in the House. About 35 years ago, 21 Black members served in the House. None served in the Senate. The number of Black congressmembers has tripled since then.

Who is the most famous Black leader? ›

Martin Luther King, Jr. No single African American in history is perhaps as famous as Martin Luther King, Jr.

What TV show has a Black president? ›

In the 2014-2015 NBC TV series State of Affairs, Alfre Woodard plays Constance Payton, the first black female president of the United States.

Who was technically the first president? ›

In November 1781, John Hanson became the first President of the United States in Congress Assembled, under the Articles of Confederation. Many people have argued that John Hanson, and not George Washington, was the first President of the United States, but this is not quite true.

Who was the first black woman to become first lady in America? ›

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (born January 17, 1964) is an American attorney and author who served as the first lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017. She was the first African-American woman to serve in this position. She is married to former president Barack Obama. Chicago, Illinois, U.S.

Has there ever been a female president? ›

While democratic nations like the United Kingdom, Australia, and Germany have elected women to the preeminent position in their governments, there has never been a woman president in the United States.

Who was the first president to invite a black man to the White House? ›

On October 16, 1901, shortly after moving into the White House, President Theodore Roosevelt invited his adviser, the African American spokesman Booker T.

Who was the first black governor? ›

Douglas Wilder was sworn in on January 13, 1990, by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr. In recognition of his landmark achievement as the first elected African-American governor, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People awarded Wilder the Spingarn Medal for 1990.

Who was the first female senator? ›

Appointed to fill a vacancy on October 3, 1922, Rebecca Felton of Georgia took the oath of office on November 21, 1922, becoming the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. Felton served only 24 hours after taking the oath, but her historic appointment paved the way for other women senators.

Who was the first woman in Congress? ›

Since 1917, when Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman to serve in Congress, a total of 423 women have served as U.S. Representatives, Delegates, Resident Commissioners, or Senators.

Which political party is most conservative? ›

The Republican Party represents conservatives in the United States, with 74% of Republicans identifying as conservative, compared to only 12% of Democrats. As of 2022, Republican leaning voters are more likely than Democrats to prioritize the issues of immigration, the budget deficit, and strengthening the military.

Why is black a power color? ›

It is associated with strength, authority, and power. Black lends an air of authority and intelligence to those who wear it. It symbolizes prestige, formality, and importance. With so many associations, it will come as no surprise that the color black has a profound effect on the psyche.

Is black the color of power? ›

The color black has long been associated with power and prestige.

What defines a conservative Democrat? ›

In American politics, a conservative Democrat is a member of the Democratic Party with conservative political views, or with views that are conservative compared to the positions taken by other members of the Democratic Party.

Where did the black Republican come from? ›

The Negro Republican Party was one name used, in the period before the end of the civil rights movement, for a branch of the Republican Party in the Southern United States, particularly Kentucky, that was predominantly made up of African Americans.

Who is the most famous black economist? ›

Abram Lincoln Harris

Considered by many as the first African American to achieve prominence in the field of economics, Harris was also known for his heavy influence on black radical and neo-conservative thought in the United States.

What is the mission of the Black caucus? ›

Since its establishment in 1971, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has been committed to using the full Constitutional power, statutory authority, and financial resources of the federal government to ensure that African Americans and other marginalized communities in the United States have the opportunity to achieve ...

Who is the leader of the black caucus? ›

The Honorable Steven Horsford

Horsford understands the challenges many families in Nevada's Fourth face each and everyday. He fights for responsible gun control and background checks.

Is Tim Scott the only black senator? ›

Years later, after being appointed to his Senate seat (he won a special election to retain the seat), Scott made history as the first Black US Senator from his native South Carolina.

Who is 4th in line to the presidency? ›

The Secretary holds the most senior position in the President's Cabinet. If the President were to resign or die, the Secretary of State is fourth in line of succession after the Vice President, the Speaker of the House, and the President pro tempore of the Senate.

What official becomes president if the president and Vice President died at the same time? ›

Act of 1792

) provided for succession after the president and vice president: first, the president pro tempore of the Senate, followed by the speaker of the House. The statute provided that the presidential successor would serve in an acting capacity, holding office only until a new president could be elected.

Who is second in line to the presidency? ›

The United States Presidential in line is the order in which government officials replace the president of the United States if the president leaves office before an elected successor is inaugurated. If the president dies, resigns or is removed from office, the vice president becomes president for the rest of the term.

Who is the only black US senator? ›

In 2016, Kamala Harris became the first African American to be elected a U.S. senator from California. Harris would go on to become the first African-American Vice President of the United States and first African American president of the United States Senate.

Does Tim Scott have a wife? ›

Senator Tim Scott is not married.

What has Lindsey Graham done for SC? ›

Graham was elected to the United States Senate in 2002 and was re-elected in 2008, 2014, and 2020. He became the first person in South Carolina history to garner over one million votes in the 2008 general election. Graham currently serves as the Ranking Member on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

How did Lindsey Graham make his money? ›

Lindsey Graham's Net Worth is Between $1 Million and $2 Million. His net worth is between $1 million to $2 million, with the bulk of his wealth coming from his congressional salary, which starts at $174,000 per year and an investment portfolio, according to the U.S. Senate website.

How many black Republicans are there in Congress? ›

Between 1789 and 2020, 152 have served in the House of Representatives, 9 have served in the Senate, and 1 has served in both chambers. Voting members have totaled 156, with 6 serving as delegates. Party membership has been, 131 Democrats, and 31 Republicans.

How many African Americans serve in Congress today? ›

There currently are 58 African-American representatives and two African-American delegates in the United States House of Representatives, representing 28 states, plus the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. Most are members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

How many black members of Congress have there been? ›

Sixty-two of the 186 African Americans who have served in Congress are current Members—59 in the House and three in the Senate. In total, there have been 176 Black Members of the House of Representatives and eleven Senators. One has served in both chambers.

How many representatives does South Carolina have? ›

Current members

The current U.S. House delegation from South Carolina has 7 members, including 6 Republicans and 1 Democrat.

Where did Senator Tim Scott play football? ›

Tim Scott (American football)
Personal information
Career history
Dallas Cowboys (2015)* Cleveland Browns (2015–2016)* Washington Redskins (2017)* New York Giants (2017) Arizona Cardinals (2018)*
* Offseason and/or practice squad member only
14 more rows

Where did Tim Scott go to college? ›

What is Lindsey Graham's net worth? ›

with an estimated net worth of $969,022 in 2018.

How old is McConnell Mitch? ›

How many houses does Lindsey Graham own? ›

What is Lindsey Graham Net Worth?
Net Worth$105 Million
Assets & Investments$45 Million
Cars Owned7
House Properties10
Weight167 lbs (76 kg)
3 more rows
May 22, 2023


1. Sen. #TimScott joins #2024 presidential race
2. Could Tim Scott become the US' first black Republican president?
(The Telegraph)
3. Republican Sen. Tim Scott announces 2024 presidential run
4. Republican Sen. Tim Scott launches 2024 presidential bid | NewsNation Now
5. Tim Scott makes announcement on 2024 Republican race – watch live
(Guardian News)
6. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott files to run for president


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