Larry Sabato: Tim Scott Senate Choice a 'Big Plus' for GOP

Monday, 17 Dec 2012 05:00 PM

By David A. Patten

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The appointment of conservative South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott to the U.S. Senate is a “big plus” for the Grand Old Party, but will not be enough to stem the adverse demographic tide that has been hurting Republicans, according to national political expert Dr. Larry J. Sabato.

Noting that Scott will be the only African-American in the upper chamber, Sabato described Scott’s selection as “a very useful appointment for the Republican Party.”

“At the same time, it’s not going to remake American politics,” the uber-analyst cautioned. “We’re past that era of symbolic politics.”

Monday’s decision by GOP South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley to appoint Scott to replace outgoing Republican Sen. Jim DeMint — who is leaving the Senate to run the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank — is historic. Scott will be the first African-American to represent the Palmetto State in the U.S. Senate since the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era.

Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said leadership roles for African-Americans in both parties is good for the country.

But he noted the high-profile involvement of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval during the 2012 political cycle did not prevent Democrats from capturing an even greater share of the Hispanic vote.

That suggests policies play an important role as well the presence of high-profile leaders, Sabato tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview.

“Back in the 60s and 70s when I was growing up, symbolic politics had great power,” Sabato says. “Today, while it is not insignificant, that power has lessened.”

The bottom line according to Sabato: The ascension of Scott is positive for Republicans in the future, but should not obfuscate the fact that Republicans have much more work to do to bridge the gap with minority communities.

“It’s a good step. That’s part of the solution,” Sabato tells Newsmax. “But it’s not even a majority of the solution … It’s not just having a symbolic figure up there on high. That’s not enough anymore. In the 60s and 70s that was enough. But not anymore.”

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