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Haley appoints Scott to fill S.C. Senate seat

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has appointed Rep. Tim Scott to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Jim DeMint who stepped down to head the conservative Heritage Foundation. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

Updated 12:27 a.m. - South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) appointed Rep. Tim Scott on Monday to fill Jim DeMint's Senate seat at a press conference in the Palmetto State.

Flanked by the other Republican members of the state's congressional delegation, Haley named Scott as the state's next senator to follow DeMint when he resigns next month to take over the top position at the Heritage Foundation.

Scott said he was thankful for the opportunity, and opened his remarks with a moment of silence for the victims of the Newtown, Conn. shooting last week. And he sounded a decidedly conservative tone. 

"We have a spending problem, ladies and gentlemen, in America. Not a revenue problem," he said.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley taps Rep. Tim Scott as Jim DeMint's successor for the Senate seat. Watch the entire news conference.

Scott will become the first African American from the South to serve in the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction -- and the only African-American senator to serve in the upcoming 113th Congress.

The rest of the South Carolina House delegation – a particularly close-knit group, was asked to attend today’s announcement at the South Carolina statehouse, according to several South Carolina House Republican sources. 

Rep. Trey Gowdy,  one of the five people on Haley’s short list for the Senate seat, said she called him Sunday night to inform him of her decision.

Gowdy, who said he thanked the governor for “making the right decision” in picking Scott, said she was “very gracious” on the call and said she would like him to be at the event.

“I told her that I would the only way I would not be there is if she specifically asked me not to come,” Gowdy said, reached by phone as he was driving from Spartanburg to Columbia for the announcement.

Scott was elected to Congress in 2010, and he represents much of the South Carolina coastline from Charleston to Myrtle Beach. He'll face a special election in November of 2014 to serve out the remainder of DeMint's term.

"I have no doubt that he will fly through 2014," Haley said.

A former state representative, Scott was first elected to Congress during the Republican wave of 2010. He beat out the son of former S.C. Sen. Strom Thurmond in a contested primary thanks to a mixture of establishment and Tea Party support. 
Scott, who is 47-years-old, was tagged for stardom in the GOP just weeks after he was elected to his first term. He was one of two House freshman elected to newly-created positions in the House Republican leadership shortly after the GOP retook the House in 2010. 

A favorite of the Tea Party, Scott's personal story is a remarkable one: While working at Chick-Fil-A, he met a movie theater manager who took him under his wing and taught him the values of conservatism and hard work. Long a poor student, Scott turned his life around and ended up getting elected to the South Carolina State House and then Congress.

Scott is a deeply religious Christian and is unmarried.

With Scott's appointment, South Carolina will be the only state in the union with two senators who are unmarried.

NBC's Ali Weinberg and Michael O'Brien contributed reporting.