Feb 10, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Tim Scott raises presidential buzz with super PAC hires

Tim Scott

Photo by Evelyn Hockstein-Pool/Getty Images

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has hired former Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner and longtime Republican operative Rob Collins to co-chair a super PAC (Opportunity Matters Fund Action) supporting the senator's political efforts.

Why it matters: Scott's decision to tap two politically-savvy Republicans — a former senator who chaired the National Republican Senatorial Committee and a former executive director of the NRSC — is a sign that he's moving closer to launching a 2024 presidential campaign.

  • If Scott announced a presidential bid, the super PAC would be the center of his political operation. The PAC has banked over $17 million, according to a source familiar with its finances. Scott gave over $21 million to Republican candidates in the last election cycle.
  • Scott, the only Black Republican senator, is traveling to South Carolina next Thursday to hold a listening tour and commemorate Black History Month — the day after former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is set to launch her own presidential campaign in her home state.
  • Scott is also planning to visit Iowa the following week to discuss the importance of faith in America.

Between the lines: Scott ramping up his operation is a significant obstacle to Haley, who appointed Scott to a then-vacant Senate seat in 2012.

  • Both Haley and Scott played a pivotal role as surrogates for Marco Rubio's 2016 presidential campaign, at a time when the pair were Republican rising stars looking to broaden the GOP's appeal.

What they're saying: “I know firsthand what an inspirational leader and hardworking legislator Tim Scott is. He is an American optimist at a time our nation desperately needs one. That’s why I’m proud to help him in any way I can," Gardner said in a statement to Axios.

The bottom line: If Scott jumps in the race, the traditional wing of the Republican party would face a similar conundrum to 2016 — the risk that two home-state allies offering a forward-looking vision for the GOP end up dividing support between each other while boosting the primary prospects of former President Trump.

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