COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH / AP) -- Gov. Nikki Haley has picked U.S. Rep. Tim Scott as South Carolina's next senator.
"Congressman Scott earned this seat." said Haley.
Scott is the only black Republican in Congress. The decision announced Monday makes him the South's first black Republican senator since Reconstruction and only the fourth black Republican ever in the U.S. Senate.
Haley said, "[Tim Scott] loves South Carolina and is aware that the decisions he makes affects South Carolina and our Country."
He takes over for Jim DeMint, who announced earlier this month he would forgo the remaining four years of this term to take the helm of The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. His resignation takes effect Jan. 1.
Scott started with a moment of silence for the school shooting victims in Connecticut. He says the country needs backbone to make difficult decisions.
"I am so thankful that we don't lose Jim DeMint; We get to see him go to a greater opportunity to help America," said Scott.
Scott will serve for two years. A special election for the term's remaining two years will be held in 2014.
"The future is incredibly bright for America," said Scott.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)