Sen. Tim Scott, a top fundraiser heading into his reelection campaign next year, endorsed contenders in nine competitive House races Tuesday, positioning the South Carolina Republican as a rainmaker for his party and fueling speculation about his ambitions beyond 2022.
Scott, who is favored for a second full Senate term and had nearly $19 million in his campaign account on Sept. 30, plans to offer a fundraising boost to eight House GOP incumbents and one candidate, Army veteran Wesley Hunt, who is seeking the Republican nomination in Texas’ new 38th District.
The incumbents endorsed by Scott are Iowa’s Ashley Hinson and Mariannette Miller-Meeks; California’s Michelle Steel, Young Kim and David Valadao; Florida’s María Elvira Salazar and Byron Donalds; and Utah’s Burgess Owens.
All the lawmakers, with the exception of Donalds, are Democratic targets in the 2022 midterms, and their races will help determine which party controls the chamber. The House map remains uncertain, as many states continue to finalize congressional district lines. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates both Iowa incumbents’ races Likely Republican for 2022.
Scott, the only Black Republican serving in the Senate, was the first African American elected to the Senate from the South since Reconstruction and has taken on an increasingly high profile, including on unsuccessful negotiations with congressional Democrats over a policing overhaul. He also offered the GOP response to President Joe Biden’s late-April address to Congress.
“I’ve long said the Republican Party is the Great Opportunity Party, and I’m so proud to endorse candidates who not only represent this opportunity, but who fight for it every day,” Scott said in an emailed statement. “Each of these candidates has lived their version of the American Dream and are crucial to ensuring that dream remains possible for every American.
“I’m looking forward to taking back the House and am proud to be a small part of helping,” he added.
Scott’s first slate of endorsements is dominated by women, veterans and people of color. Scott served in the House before Gov. Nikki Haley appointed him in 2013 to fill the seat held by Sen. Jim DeMint, who resigned. Scott was elected to a full term in 2016.
“Senator Scott is one of those who will be leading our party into the future and I consider it both an honor and privilege to receive his endorsement,” Steel said in a statement. “My journey as a kid whose parents fled North Korea to serving in the United States Congress underscores our strongly held belief that Republicans are truly the party of individualism and the American Dream.”
House Republicans are seen to have the advantage going into the midterms, given Biden’s low job approval ratings. Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer, who chairs the House GOP campaign arm, has said his party plans to build on gains from last cycle, which included more than doubling the number of women in the conference, which had dwindled to 13.
“House Republicans are on pace to shatter recruitment records with a historic number of women, veterans, and candidates from minority communities already filed to run,” Emmer wrote in a recent memo.
Scott’s endorsements come with a max-out donation ($5,000 per election) from his leadership PAC, Tomorrow Is Meaningful, or TIM PAC. Scott will also help his endorsed candidates raise campaign money online, according to a political aide.
“It is an absolute honor to be endorsed by Senator Tim Scott,” Hunt said in an email from a campaign aide.
Hunt ran unsuccessfully for Texas’ 7th District in 2020, losing to Democratic Rep. Lizzie Fletcher.
‘A role model’
Hunt called Scott “a role model,” adding: “Like me, he has experienced firsthand that with good parents, a good education, and a lot of hard work, anything is possible in this country. I am proud to have his support, and I look forward to joining him in the halls of Congress.”
Scott’s fundraising has been strong heading into 2022. Inside Elections rates his South Carolina reelection race Solid Republican.
His war chest is not only aimed at scaring off potential opponents but could also position him to rise in his party, either in Senate leadership or beyond the legislative branch.
Scott has disclosed hauling in about $20 million this year alone for his reelection coffers, including nearly $8 million from donors who gave $200 or less, a metric that measures broad support. Earlier this year, he set up the Tim Scott Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee that allows wealthier donors to write one check that is then split among different committees.
Scott splits the proceeds among his Senate reelection outfit, his leadership PAC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to Federal Election Commission filings. He also has a separate joint fundraising committee called Tim Scott’s American Opportunity.