Son of one-time segregationist loses to black Republican

Republican Tim Scott earned a landslide victory against challenger Paul Thurmond in the Republican runoff in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District.

The Associated Press called the race for Scott with the candidate leading Thurmond 74 percent to 26 percent. 

There was no question that Scott was the candidate of the party's D.C. establishment in the South Carolina district.

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It's a label that has essentially been the kiss of death for other GOP primary candidates this election cycle. But in the open-seat primary to replace retiring Rep. Henry Brown Jr. (R), the party appeared thrilled to coalesce behind Scott, the man who could become the GOP's only black member of Congress if he wins in November. The GOP has not had a black Congressman in its ranks since the 2002 retirement of former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.). It also helps that Scott is plenty conservative. The candidate has made repealing President Barack Obama's healthcare law his campaign's biggest issue.

In a crowded 9-candidate primary on June 8, Scott was the top vote getter, winning 31 percent of the vote. Thurmond landed in second with 13 percent. Thurmond is the son of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.). The runoff was laced with symbolism for the party: A black Republican taking on the son of the one-time "Dixiecrat" presidential candidate who campaigned on a platform of segregation.

Scott received a slew of endorsements from prominent Republicans across the country. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin backed him. The leadership PACs of House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who heads the party's congressional recruiting efforts, each cut $5,000 checks to Scott's campaign.

Scott also had the financial backing of the conservative Club for Growth, which spent more than $50,000 in the two weeks before the runoff on TV ads and mailers supporting his campaign. 

Given the heavily Republican bent of the district, the winner of Tuesday's runoff is all but certain to capture the seat in November. The district gave Republican John McCain of Arizona 56 percent of the vote in 2008. Former President George W. Bush beat Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) 61-39 there in 2004.

The winner faces Democrat Ben Frasier in November's general election.

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