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A flailing Mark Sanford is trying to score himself some points with a new ad tying Elizabeth Colbert Busch, his Democratic opponent in the upcoming special election in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, to Big Labor, that perpetual and mythical boogeyman of the right.
The ad plays video of Colbert Busch saying "The voices of the union are not being heard and I promise to be that voice for you."
"That's Elizabeth Colbert Busch fighting for big labor," the ad's narrator says. "Colbert Busch is funded by labor union special interest money, even the one trying to shut down Boeing. In Congress she'll return the favor."
Yes, "big labor" in the state with the third-lowest union density in the country—just 3.3 percent of South Carolina workers are in unions. The fact that labor isn't big at all in South Carolina may make it a more potent attack, since fewer people will be able to identify unions with friends, family and neighbors who are union members. But it makes it an especially ridiculous frame to use. Then again, the claim that a union is "trying to shut down Boeing" shows how concerned with the truth Sanford is here. After all, the man has trespassing charges to distract voters from.
In fact, it's possible that few voters will ever see this ad. David Nir points out that:
[T]here are two notable differences between this spot and Sanford's first. For one, the commercial he aired last week was partly paid for by the South Carolina Republican Party. This one isn't, indicating that yet another Republican group has backed away from him.
For another, Sanford and the SCGOP publicly shared the size of their earlier buy, even though it was for a not-especially-impressive $100,000. This time, there's no word on the size of the buy, which makes me wonder if this is a relatively small purchase mostly aimed at earning free media. I certainly wouldn't be surprised if Sanford's fundraising is disappearing along with his outside support.
Desperate man, weak ploy—that looks increasingly likely to be the story of the final weeks of Sanford's campaign.