Haley: Congressman Scott earned this seat

COLUMBIA, SC (WMBF/AP) - South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announced Rep. Tim Scott has been appointed to fill the senate seat vacated by U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, making him the first black senator in the Palmetto State's history.

At the statehouse, Governor Nikki Haley made the announcement at noon on Monday, saying Congressman Tim Scott "earned this seat."

"This is the right US Senator for our state and for our country," said Haley, joined by Senators DeMint and Lindsey Graham.

Scott, a tea party-backed conservative, will be the first black senator in the state's history. He will take office in January after DeMint resigns to take the helm of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

Scott will face an election in November 2014 should he seek a full term.

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Chad Connelly responded to the announcement by saying, "South Carolina Republicans are thrilled with Governor Haley's historic selection of Rep. Scott. Rep. Scott embodies our American dream. He is a man of faith, a small businessman, and a consistent voice for common sense reforms. We look forward to Rep. Scott carrying Senator Jim DeMint's torch of conservative leadership."

State law gives the Republican governor the authority to pick DeMint's successor. Scott's name was among four others as potential nominees. They include former first lady Jenny Sanford, U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, former Attorney General Henry McMaster and state health agency director Catherine Templeton.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this article.