COLUMBIA, S.C. — The man who will become the South’s first black Republican senator since Reconstruction said Monday his ascension in politics showed the evolution of his state and the nation.

Congressman Tim Scott was picked by fellow Republican Gov. Nikki Haley to take over the seat being vacated by Jim DeMint. Haley, a daughter of Indian immigrants who became South Carolina’s first female and minority governor in 2010, acknowledged making history with her appointment, but she stressed that she picked Scott for his conservative values.

“It is very important to me as a minority female, that Congressman Scott earned this seat, he earned this seat for the person he is, for the results he’s shown,” she said. “He earned this seat for what I know he’s going to do in making South Carolina and our country proud.”

Scott, 47, will be sworn in Jan. 3 to replace DeMint, who is leaving to lead The Heritage Foundation.