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Tim Scott is the first directly elected Southern black senator in American history

South Carolina's Senate race has been called for Republican Tim Scott, who defeated Democrat Joyce Dickerson.

Scott was already a US senator, having been appointed to his seat after his predecessor Jim DeMint resigned in 2012. But the fact that he was elected tonight is significant, as it makes him:

  • South Carolina's first popularly elected black senator
  • the first African American elected to any statewide office in South Carolina since Reconstruction
  • and the first African American ever popularly elected to the Senate from anywhere in the South. The four other black senators who have been popularly elected to the Senate — not appointed by governors or state legislatures — are Massachusetts' Edward Brooke, Barack Obama and Carol Moseley Braun from Illinois, and New Jersey's Cory Booker.

Fun fact: Scott, who's a longtime favorite of Tea Party activists, once served as the campaign co-chairman for infamous segregationist Strom Thurmond. And don't hold your breath waiting for him to celebrate his historic accomplishments with his African-American colleagues. Scott has declined to join the Congressional Black Caucus.