I was speaking with an African-American man today about race relations and the subject turned to Tim Scott’s election win — the first black Republican to win a Statehouse race since Reconstruction.

State GOP Chairman Katon Dawson says, “It’s an exciting time for the Republican Party.” But in my conversation today, it seemed that there’s this weight of embarrassment on this history-making win. The first since reconstruction? That’s well over a century, folks.

While the Post and Courier’s editorial page busts out the streamers in glee at Scott’s win, Robert Behre’s news story gives some of the “It took this long?!” perspective.

Scott’s win is noteworthy because while Republicans have talked about reaching out to minority voters for years, but their efforts seldom extended beyond a news conference or press release, said Clemson University political scientist Bruce Ransom.

“This is significant, though at this point we know it’s only one seat,” Ransom said. “Still, you can no longer say that no black Republicans have been elected to the state Legislature in South Carolina.”

Coupled with McCall’s win, Ransom said the GOP outreach effort no longer can be criticized as pure rhetoric. “This is not earthshaking progress. Some might call it a token outcome, but nonetheless it is a breakthrough, and you’ve got to start somewhere,” he said.

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