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Tim Scott seeks final US Senate term; bigger office may loom

Tim Scott
Meg Kinnard/AP
/
AP
FILE - U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., speaks at a fundraiser in Anderson, S.C., Aug. 22, 2022. Scott faces Democrat Krystle Matthews and an independent opponent in his bid for reelection on Nov. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard, File)

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott is running for what he says is a final six-year term from South Carolina, but the only Black Republican in the U.S. Senate may have bigger future political ambitions.

Scott is facing Democratic state Rep. Krystle Matthews as he seeks a second full term, which he promised would be his last. Scott was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2013 by then Gov. Nikki Haley when Jim DeMint resigned the seat.

Scott began his general election campaign in the summer with $25 million in the bank and still had $21 million a month before the election. Matthews has raised $133,00 for her primary and general election run.

Matthews' campaign has struggled. Much of the attention has been on a series of conversations that were taped without Matthews' knowledge and released by Project Veritas, a group calling itself a media organization though it relies on tactics — including sting operations — that are not widely accepted media practices.

In the tapes, which Matthews has acknowledged, the Black Democrat said she keeps white voters "under my thumbs" and suggested she should fund her campaign with "dope boy money," which she said was a joke.

Several Democrats, including South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Joe Cunningham, condemned Matthews.

Matthews also is running for a third term in the South Carolina House, but Republican-dominated redistricting put more likely GOP voters into her district in Berkeley and Charleston counties.

Scott, 57, has spent about as much time helping other Republicans as he has campaigning. Perhaps his biggest event this year was releasing a memoir called "America, A Redemption Story," in which he tells his story of being raised by a single mother and his rise as a Black Republican in South Carolina.

Scott is coy about any future plans beyond winning reelection. He has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2024 or later, depending on how the field shapes up.

As the Senate's only Black Republican, Scott has had a prominent role in his party. He is one of the GOP's best fundraisers and got a primetime speech at the 2020 Republican National Convention.

In his 2014 special election and 2016 election to a first full term, Scott has faced a Black Democrat and won by at least 60% of the vote.

Democrats haven't won a U.S. Senate race in South Carolina since Ernest "Fritz" Hollings was reelected to his final term in 1998.