South Carolina's Tim Scott is the only black Republican in the Senate. But in an in-depth interview with Politico, he revealed that he was this close to being a Democrat instead.
Despite his conservative views on fiscal policies and social issues, he told Politico that he wasn't originally sure that his politics aligned with the Republican Party's:
He was volunteering [in 1994] on the congressional campaign of a young man named Mark Sanford, attracted to his platform of fiscal discipline. But Scott wasn't sure he himself was a Republican. He visited the local Democratic Party headquarters to tell them he was interested in running for [an open Charleston City Council seat]. "They told me to get in line," Scott laughs. He went straight to the GOP headquarters. "They said, 'You probably won't win, but heck we'd love to see you run.'" And just like that, Scott was a Republican. "Access to opportunity is my No. 1 issue," he says by way of explanation. "It doesn't really matter what your title is; your mission is the same." [Politico]
Overall, Scott is also one of just three African-American members in the entire upper chamber, joining Democratic Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.) and Kamala Harris (Calif.). But he rejects any attempts to pigeonhole his tenure through a racial lens. He believes that President Trump's time in office has been beneficial for Americans, pushing communities to have "painful, ugly, embarrassing" conversations about thorny issues like race.
"God made me black on purpose," Scott told Politico. "It has helped me to help others who have been locked out of opportunity in many ways." Read the whole interview at Politico.