According to Francis Wilkinson, a contributor to Bloomberg, the only reason Tim Scott (R-SC), an African-American, is in the Senate is South Carolina's guilt about the Civil War, and the reason the GOP likes him is that they can parade him around to show there is a black Republican.
Wilkinson, who is Caucasian, points to the fact that Scott doesn't have a primary challenger to build his case:
You know who doesn't have a primary challenger, Tea Party or otherwise? Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. That's intriguing. Appointed in 2013 by Governor Nikki Haley to fill the seat vacated by former Senator Jim DeMint, Scott is the first black Republican in the Senate since Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, who served in the era when DINO-RINOs of the Nelson Rockefeller and Charles Percy persuasion roamed the earth.
The primary reason for Scott's lack of a challengers is that he is a conservative and a Tea Party favorite. The challengers to Republican incumbents running in 2014 are all Tea Party candidates. Wilkinson glosses over that fact before he gets to his "real" issue with Scott: an unnamed Republican said a bad thing about him, the liberal Washington Post wrote a negative profile of him and the NAACP gave him an "F."
The Washington Post this week profiled Scott as "the undercover senator" -- not exactly the strategic posture you'd expect from a little-known, unelected senator making his first statewide race in a party, and a moment, rife with anti-incumbent anger.
A South Carolina Republican told me that Scott's immunity from challenge stemmed from two sources: First, Scott placed himself so far to the right that there was no space for a Tea Party challenge on ideological grounds. He has an "F" on the NAACP legislative scorecard and a higher score on the right-wing Heritage Action scorecard -- 94 out of a possible 100 -- than fellow South Carolinian Joe "You Lie" Wilson.
According to Wilkinson, Scott's popularity with the Tea Party and other conservatives is not based on his political stances or talent, but because they need a black candidate to avoid being called racist:
In South Carolina, where the Confederate battle flag still flies on the state capitol grounds, and where a recent lieutenant governor seemed a little too enthusiastic about all things confederate, that matters.
In effect, South Carolina Republicans treat Scott like the national party previously treated the ham-handed presidential candidate Herman Cain and the party's not-quite-competent chairman during Obama's first term, Michael Steele: They are members of an endangered political species for whom the bar is effectively lowered.