Tim Scott becomes first black senator elected in south since Reconstruction – Amanda Holpuch Tuesday 4 November 2014 21.23 EST

South Carolina candidate defeats two challengers to become only the fifth black US senator and the first in the south since the 19th century.

Republican Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina in a swearing-in ceremony, with his mother Frances and vice president Joe Biden. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

South Carolina voters have elected the first black senator from a southern state since the Reconstruction era.

Republican Tim Scott had been heavily favoured to win the endorsement of voters, after being appointed to the seat in December 2012 on the resignation of Jim DeMint.

He is South Carolina’s first black senator, and the fifth black person elected to the Senate.

Democrat Joyce Dickerson and Jill Bossi of the American Party unsuccessfully challenged Scott in the senate race. South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham was also sent back to the Senate, having handily defeated his seat for a third term.

“I think it says a lot about South Carolina and the evolution we have undergone in the last 50 years. If you look for a state with the most progress in the history of this country in the shortest period of time, look at South Carolina. We have a lot to be proud of,” Scott said after he voted on Tuesday morning.

Scott, who was endorsed by Tea Party groups, served as as a congressman for the states 1st district from 2011 to 2013. He was a member of the Charleston County council for 13 years before that.

The first black senator in the US, Mississippi Republican Hiram Rhodes Revels, was sworn in in February 1870. Some southern Democrats attempted to block him from serving by arguing that he had not met the nine-year minimum citizenship requirement because citizenship was not granted to black people before the 14th amendment was ratified in 1868.