Timothy Eugene Scott was born on September 19, 1965, in Charleston, South Carolina. His parents divorced when he was seven years old, and he grew up in working-class poverty with his mother, who worked 16-hour days to support the family. Scott’s campaign biography says he “grew accustomed to moving every few years, as well as the long hours his mom worked to keep a roof over their heads.”
He admits he failed four classes in his freshman year of high school and credits his mother and an unnamed mentor with helping him get his life on track. He graduated from R.B. Stall High School and attended Presbyterian College from 1983 to 1984 on a partial football scholarship. He graduated from Charleston Southern University in 1988 with a Bachelor of Science degree in political science.
After graduating from college, Scott worked as an insurance agent and financial adviser. He owns an insurance agency, Tim Scott Allstate.
Scott ran as a Republican in the 1995 special election for the Charleston County Council at-large seat vacated by Keith Summey, who resigned after he was elected mayor of North Charleston. Scott won the seat, receiving nearly 80% of the vote in the white-majority district.
In 1996, Scott challenged Democratic State Senator Robert Ford in South Carolina’s 42nd Senate district but lost. He was re-elected to the County Council in 2000 and 2004. Scott served on the council from 1995 until 2009, becoming chairman in 2007.
In 2008, he won a seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives.
In 2010, Scott ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives and won in a runoff. He was reelected in 2012.
On December 17, 2012, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced she would appoint Scott to replace retiring Senator Jim DeMint. Scott is the first African American U.S. senator from South Carolina and one of just 11 to have served in the Senate. He was also the first to have served in both chambers of Congress. In 2014, Scott ran to serve the final two years of DeMint’s term and won. He was subsequently reelected to a full term in office in 2016.
Of all his legislative activities, his website says he considers creating Opportunity Zones his “signature legislation.” Passed as part of the 2017 tax reform package, he believes it has the “potential to bring billions of dollars of private investment into distressed communities across the country.”
He views Iran as the world’s most dangerous country and believes the U.S. should aid pro-democracy groups there.
Scott was a loyal supporter of President Donald Trump but did criticize him for his comment that there were fine people on “both sides” of the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. After Trump had dinner with white supremacist Nick Fuentes and rapper Kanye West, who had recently made a number of anti-Semitic remarks, Scott said, “It’s a bad idea for anyone to elevate racists or anti-Semites.”
Scott opposes the BDS campaign against Israel and was one of three Republican senators to ask the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission to investigate Ben & Jerry’s and parent company Unilever after the ice cream maker said it would bar sales of its product in the disputed territories. He was also a co-sponsor of the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which was introduced in the 115th Congress but failed to be adopted.
Scott twice introduced the bipartisan “Anti-Semitism Awareness Act,” which would require the Department of Education to adopt the definition of anti-Semitism written by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). It failed to be adopted, but President Trump issued an executive order in 2019 instructing the DoE to consider the definition in its enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Trump said, “without Tim this wouldn’t have happened.”
He was a co-founder of the Senate Black-Jewish caucus in 2021 with Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Cory Booker (D-NJ). “This bipartisan caucus, the first of its kind in the United States Senate, will bring together elected leaders from the Black and Jewish communities, and both sides of the aisle, to strengthen Black-Jewish relations, bolster mutual understanding, and work to combat anti-Semitism and racism.”
On May 22, 2023, Scott announced he would run for president.
- “I have and always will stand with the Israeli people. The UN Security Council is set to hold yet another targeted vote against Israel. I strongly call on the Biden administration to VETO this resolution at the UNSC and stand by our Israeli allies.” (@SenatorTimScott, February 17, 2023)
- “If there’s anything that is not debatable, it is standing strong with our allies....I can’t even count the number of lives that have been saved because of Iron Dome....Iron Dome prevents deaths which then allows for us not to see a war in the Middle East because if you start killing thousands of Israelis, they have to respond. It is their abilitiy to defend themselves that reduces the likelihood of war in the Middle East.” (Fox News, September 24, 2021)
- “It is ludicrous to suggest that Israel’s self defense bears the same responsibility for the ongoing conflict as the Iran-backed Hamas terrorist attacks.” (@SenatorTimScott, )
- “I want to congratulate Israel, U.A.E., and Bahrain on signing the Abraham Accords. This is a monumental step for peace in the Middle East. The Trump Administration worked hard to get this win. Let’s continue these great steps forward!” (@SenatorTimScott, September 15, 2020)
- “The fact is, for all intents and purposes, Jerusalem is and has been the capital of Israel. Their legislature is seated there, as well as their Prime Minister. Congress has repeatedly voted in a bipartisan manner in favor of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and the President has made the right decision to formalize that recognition. I look forward to our embassy moving there as security and staffing are ramped up, as well as strengthening our relationship with Israel as efforts to find peace in the region continue.” (Tim Scott United States Senator, December 6, 2017)
- “It’s hard to make a good deal with bad actors, and this #IranDeal leads us down a dangerous path.” (@SenatorTimScott, July 14, 2015)
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Sources: Tim Scott United States Senator.
“Tim Scott,” Wikipedia.
@SenatorTimScott, (July 14, 2015).
“Scott Statement on President's Announcement Regarding Jerusalem,” Tim Scott United States Senator, (December 6, 2017).
@SenatorTimScott, (September 15, 2020).
“Launch of the Senate Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations; The Startup Nation: “Failure is Not an Option,” American Jewish Committee, (2021).
Fox and Friends, Fox News, September 24, 2021).
@SenatorTimScott, (February 17, 2023).
Jacob Kornbluh, “Tim Scott, co-founder of the Black-Jewish caucus, enters 2024 presidential race,” Forward, (May 22, 2023).