Craig Melvin   |  February 18, 2014

Black candidates making moves in SC

South Carolina is poised to elect its first black candidate to statewide office in 142 years. Former South Carolina State House Rep. Anton Gunn discusses with Craig Melvin.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> meanwhile, richard howell leaves, stop scratching your head. you've never heard of the guy, but he was, in fact, the last black person elected statewide in south carolina . he was a lieutenant governor. here we are 142 years later and the palmetto state is poised to elect the first black candidate since him. a record seven african- americans are running this year. in one senate race, all three of the candidates are black. before becoming a senior obama administration official and health care guru, anton dunn was in south carolina . good to see you. let's start with the question people not familiar with south carolina politics are asking right now, what took so long?

>> well, there's a lot of reasons it took long, and the first reason is, pitch fork ben tillman , the governor of south carolina in 1890 , who oversaw the constitutional convention that transformed the state and snatched away voting rights and other political rights to african- americans and for 142 years we've had a drought where african- americans haven't had the ability to ascend to a statewide office. we've elected people to the legislature, but never to a statewide office. you can thank ben tillman for putting that in place and making it difficult across the country, but the example primarily is here in south carolina .

>> senator tim scott , as you know, running to remain in the senate after being appointed back in 2012 when jim demint stepped down. house minority leader says, quote, the color of his skin, certainly is not representative of the way that he votes on the policies that he seems to side with. senator scott's take on this, quote, his response, "the theory there's some monolithic group of thinkers is just not consistent with reality." would senator scott's election come with an asterisk like rutherford's suggesting or seems to be suggesting here?

>> see, here's what i like to say about that, african- americans don't vote as a monolith or think like a monolith either, but the point is, policy is what matters. policies that advance the diversity in south carolina , that advance small businesses, black and white , educational conditions, those policies matter, so it doesn't really matter, you know, who you are as a person, but the politics you're advancing as a candidate, what's that mean for all the of the people of south carolina , and when you have a state that the population is almost 30% african-american and you don't see the same advancements in education and economic development and business opportunities , you have to look to see what the candidates are doing, what their policies are, what the elected officials are doing. i wouldn't call it an asterisk, but i would say you have to focus on what is tim scott going to do to give them the opportunities everyone else