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Stephen Colbert and Elizabeth Colbert Busch at ILA Hall in Charleston, SC, wearing aprons to prepare breakfast for supporters
Stephen Colbert & Elizabeth Colbert Busch
preparing breakfast for supporters
The conventional wisdom—and the polling—turned out to be right: Ex-Gov. Mark Sanford handily beat former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic on Tuesday night in the GOP runoff for the SC-01 special election to replace Tim Scott. Sanford had far greater name recognition and a lot more money, leading him to dominate the first round of voting two weeks ago, 37 to 13. That left Bostic little time to turn things around, and Sanford secured the Republican nomination by a 57-43 margin.

(Kudos, by the way, to Public Policy Polling, the only firm willing to offer public numbers for a difficult-to-poll runoff. They put Sanford up 53-40, a 13-point margin; he won by 14. It's hard to do much better than that.)

Now Sanford will face Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, sister of comedian Stephen Colbert. (She pronounces it "cole-bert," unlike her brother.) Despite this district's very red hue—Mitt Romney carried it 58-40 last November—Colbert Busch had a narrow 47-45 lead over Sanford in PPP's survey, and a similar 47-44 edge in an internal poll she released earlier this week. While Sanford retains a measure of popularity with some Republicans, overall, his reputation is poor, thanks in large part to his infamous hike on the Appalachian Trail as governor several years ago.

Colbert Busch's favorability ratings, on the other hand, have been strong, but that comes with a big caveat: She didn't face a competitive primary and hasn't been the subject of a single negative attack yet. That's about to change. Of course, Republicans shouldn't have to break a sweat holding a seat like this, so the fact that they're almost sure to go negative on Colbert Busch is a testament to Sanford's... special qualities, and perhaps the weakness of the GOP brand in general. I wouldn't rule out the chance of an upset, especially if Colbert Busch gets serious outside help and can make the race all about Sanford. (Indeed, her famous brother is going all-out and raising lots of money for her, and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is aiding her cause, too.)

Colbert Busch has her own vulnerabilities, though they are mostly ideological, simply because she's a Democrat running in such a red district. In one tweet, for instance, she declared she was "both pro-choice and in favor of marriage equality," stances that put her to the left of the median voter in SC-01—and tellingly, her campaign just wiped her entire Twitter account clean. But as one local Republican operative quoted by Politico notes, it may be tricky for Sanford himself to go on the offensive, seeing as he's still busy apologizing for his indiscretions and many women voters still have a serious problem with him. And the fact that his opponent is a woman doesn't make it any easier.

That likely means that outside groups—principally the NRCC—will have to do Sanford's proverbial "dirty work" for him. And if national Republicans wind up having to spend real money here, that alone is a victory for Democrats. But with the GOP saddled with a candidate as flawed as Sanford, an outright victory for Team Blue is not impossible. So, as always, keep an eye on fundraising, attack ads, outside spending, and, of course, polling, because we might just see a surprise here.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 09:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Attack ads against Sanford should totally stress (7+ / 0-)

    his breaking of his marriage vows, his adultery, and his unfaithfulness to both voters and his wife.  They should go all personal on him, because SC voters like to think of themselves as "values voters."  They should stress how Sanford has failed such voters, because you know that the GOP will be running ads claiming that Colbert is godless and a valueless liberal for supporting choice and marriage equality.  

    Ads stressing his unfaithfulness, his lies about his adultery, and his weak character should definitely be targeted to women voters too.  No pro-Colbert groups running ads should stay away from this stuff during this coming electoral fight.  

    That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

    by concernedamerican on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 09:46:04 AM PDT

    •  not sure about that (12+ / 0-)

      People already know what Sanford did. ECB has to establish her own credibility, since Sanford will try to disqualify her. I think what she has up on her website so far fits in with the type of campaign I think she will need to run. She takes moderate positions on bread and butter issues, and there isn't a peep about cultural issues.

      SSP poster. 43, new CA-6, -0.25/-3.90

      by sacman701 on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 09:59:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are outside groups who will run ads for (8+ / 0-)

        Colbert, or against Sanford to help Colbert.  Those are the groups who should be reminding voters about the personal issues, and posing questions along the lines of "he's let voters down once, and let his family down.  Do we really want him to let South Carolina down again?"

        That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

        by concernedamerican on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 10:03:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  me either... (5+ / 0-)

        ...to me, the best strategy would be to criticize Sanford's record in office, primarily (does anyone know whether his record on policy was popular or not...or whether he had any major disappointments/catastrophes on that front?).

        And then...it would be best to couch that criticism in terms that could cause voters to pause regarding personal matters (i.e. challenging Sanford's poor priorities when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars...can subtly allude to the fact that he blatantly misused taxpayer dollars for personal indiscretions). Challenging whether Sanford's record in office, especially on the spending front, seems like a great way to criticize him without dragging the campaign into the gutter. Blatantly dragging the campaign into the gutter by focusing on Sanford's indiscretions can backfire...especially if he wants to go all...he's come to Jesus to be forgiven to shamelessly pander to the Christian right.

        It would also be interesting to see if there are any  legitimate, objective news media outlets in the state to pursue certain questions on their own (such as: who does Sanford's ex-wife support?)

      •  I don't know about that... (0+ / 0-)

        ...people keep talking about his "infamous hike on the Appalachian Trail" instead of what he actually did. I'm afraid the low-information voters of South Carolina might actually believe that's what he was doing, instead of fucking another woman while his wife and kids sat home on Father's Day wondering where he was.

        Atlas shrugged. Jesus wept.

        by trevzb on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 12:14:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Funny, one of the top 10 sex scandals in America (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LordMike, davybaby

      involves a Congressman and an Argentinian stripper.

      It appears that Congressman Wilbur Mills went hiking on the Appalachian Trail as well.

    •  "Oops, I made a mistake" mustn't cut it. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Kevskos, Sue B, Possiamo, Odysseus

      Don't make this complicated. C-B stresses merits. Others, affiliated or not-, can talk about Sanford's "mistakes," one mistake after another.

      Use clips of Sanford's statements and the headlines and news clips of the time. After each incident, local voters comment, such as: "Mistake? That's way more than a mistake!"

      E.g. He lied to his staff. (Out hiking.) Personal use of government resources. (Misused travel funds. Plane trip to Argentina. Flew to get a haircut.) Cited for ethics violations. (ditto) He was missing in action. (Fathers' Day with his four sons.) He cheated on his wife. (Argentine now-fiance, many times.)

      Count the mistakes. And categorize them. This is not just a weak man in an affair and smitten by new love, now seeking redemption. This guy misled his wife, his family members, his own people, the voters. He lied many times about many things. Let us count the lies.

      2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

      by TRPChicago on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 11:16:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  leave the wife out (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JBL55, Odysseus

      I would concentrate on how he abused his power and was fined $70,000. He used tax money to meet his mistress. If SC will vote for this guy over a democrat the state is hopeless.
      The reality is Sanford only wants to go to the senate as a steppingstone to a senate run or another try for governor.
      Who knows he may even have his eye on the white house.

  •  Remember that the SC-01 was the only CD (10+ / 0-)

    that Mitt Romney won in the South Carolina primary.  Social issues aren't where it's at for this district.   It's fiscal issues.

    If Colbert-Busch can stick to a "Jobs, Jobs, Jobs" message while sounding credibly fiscally conservative, she'll be able to squeak a win.

    I think this is a Tossup(maybe Tilt D?).   Sanford attacking Colbert-Busch on marriage issues opens up a big can of worms and somehow I think Colbert-Busch mentioning how the government shouldn't be getting in the middle of marriages would play well.

    I agree with President Obama, our country's journey is not yet complete. We must continue the work that our forebearers at Seneca Falls started, and put the Equal Rights Amendment into our Constitution.

    by pistolSO on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 09:49:56 AM PDT

  •  Send a SC Dem to Congress - Contribute $5 here (6+ / 0-)

    Elizabeth Colbert Busch can win this with our help:

    https://secure.actblue.com/...

    Filibuster reform, 2013 - woulda, coulda, shoulda.

    by bear83 on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 09:53:40 AM PDT

  •  South Forward PAC put out an ad (6+ / 0-)

    (PAC started by Don & Carol Fowler)

    Faux News ruined my state

    by sc kitty on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 09:53:56 AM PDT

  •  SHHHHHH! (5+ / 0-)

    Don't tell the Republicans, they may take this seriously.

    I would love it if we could sneak this one out from under their noses.  And Busch seems to be a stellar person in her own right, and just may prove that it's possible to have a representative from an R+11 district who isn't a complete nincompoop.

  •  Comedian? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55

    Why do you refer to Stephen Colbert as simply a "comedian?"

  •  Stephen once pronounced it, "Col-bert" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hohenzollern, JBL55

    on his show. It's been a while, but I believe he was speaking of his mother.

    The Great Awakening Is Afire! Think outside the box.

    by franklyn on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 11:00:22 AM PDT

  •  Tell Sanford to Take a Hike (8+ / 0-)

    I hope we'll get plenty of zingers out of this campaign.

  •  Site of their first debate is Springer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    msmacgyver, JBL55

    Mountain, Georgia. (guess what trail begins there?)  OK, I'm kidding.

    By the authority vested in me by Kaiser Wilhelm II, I pronounce you man and wife. Proceed with the execution.

    by HarryParatestis on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 11:07:28 AM PDT

  •  "both pro-choice and in favor of marriage equality (5+ / 0-)

    She still had plenty of room to add she was an avid hiker.

    guns are fun v. hey buddy, watch what you are doing -- which side are you on?

    by 88kathy on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 11:13:18 AM PDT

  •  Farebox to Ballot Box (7+ / 0-)

    We're in the midst of a major transit riding voter mobilization effort here.   It is non partisan.  We're asking both candidates to ride the bus and answer two, simple transit questions.

    Colbert Busch rode the bus March 14
    Mark Sanford hasn't been on the bus yet.  We have Republicans working on him.

    www.busec.org/vote

    William Hamilton practices Law and is a writer and community activist in the Charleston, SC area. He can reached through www.wjhamilton.com

    by wjhamilton29464 on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 11:16:56 AM PDT

  •  What a sorry state of affairs in this country.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55

    that this guy even won a primary.
    People will overlook anything just for a win.

    peace

    keith

    "Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here." Marianne Williamson

    by Canadian Green Card Alien on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 11:17:57 AM PDT

  •  Is there a debate scheduled? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jj32, JBL55

    I doubt Team Sanford would really want to do that.

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 11:38:28 AM PDT

  •  Sanford lost Beaufort County, his home turf... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55, akmk

    Bostic 52%
    Sanford 48%

  •  Getting involved is a win-win for us here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55

    I certainly do think that an upset win is possible here, so Democrats everywhere should be all-in for our candidate.

    But if she loses, we still gain something.  The more attention this race gets, the more people all over the country hear that Mark Sanford is back as an office-seeking public official.  I don't think I've read an article about him since this race started that didn't include something like "disgraced former governor" after the first comma in the first sentence!

  •  Campaign finance question (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JBL55, Odysseus

    Is there any way the Sanford campaign could construe media time spent attacking Sanford or supporting Colbert Busch on The Colbert Report as an in-kind contribution seeing as the candidate is related to the host of the show? I mean Sanford is a really obvious target for comedy here so it's not like Stephen would be doing anything out of the ordinary by doing a few bits on Sanford and his candidacy. But a similar issue came up here in Washington when a talk show host ran for Governor.

    There's a difference between a responsible gun owner, and one that's been lucky so far.

    by BeerNotWar on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 11:55:59 AM PDT

  •  Can we PLEASE stop referring (0+ / 0-)

    to Sanford's mysterious week-long disappearance from the state he purported to govern as any sort of "hike on the Appalachain Trail?"

    It was no such thing. It was a romp in fucking Argentina (in the global south, not the American one) with his mistress. There was no hike on the Appalachian Trail involved, and continually using the euphemism for what he did discounts its seriousness.

    He left his family to go to Argentina to fuck another woman.
    On Father's Day.
    Without telling his family or ANYBODY ELSE.

    Hiking on the Appalachian Trail deserves better than that.

    Atlas shrugged. Jesus wept.

    by trevzb on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 12:12:10 PM PDT

  •  New SC-01 = old SC-05? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akmk

    Aren't we talking mostly about the district held by Democrat John Spratt for decades, hugging the NC border?  Wasn't Scott the first and only Republican to win that district, ever?

    I know things are changing as the GOP becomes a rump Southern party, that wins in and only in the white parts of The South, but isn't it a tad pessimistic to be calling it unwinnably red?  

    Those districts in the inland, pointy end--THOSE are maybe unwinnable red.  Toward the coast are EXACTLY the kind of districts we have to fight in, and fight hard, if we're going to have a House majority.

    Remember,we took MS-01 and AL-02 this decade, and those are far redder districts with long GOP-friendly histories.  If they have rural populists, pound the economy and demand a fair shake for the little guy.  If they're more libertarian, pound the GOP war on civil liberties.  If thy're paleo conservative, go ahead and run a conservadem. Jo Lieberman would have been a GREAT Democratic Senator from South Carolina. If it meant displacing Jim DeMint, I'd have backed him just fine down there.

    Cover me, Melvert! I gotta leave the Sovrin Independent Free Market Collective of Fortress Libertopia to go get our disability checks!

    by AdmiralNaismith on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 12:23:17 PM PDT

    •  No (4+ / 0-)

      SC-01 is Georgetown, Charleston, Beaufort and possibly Jasper Cos., along the coast.

      Spratt's old seat is held by Mick Mulvaney, Teabagger Idiot. His district now includes my house, which didn't move but is apparently surrounded now by more white people than before, when it was in Jim Clyburn's SC-04.

      Tom Rice won the new SC-07, which is Horry County and the Pee-Dee basin in the NE quadrant of the state. Scott won the district Sanford and Colbert-Busch are running for, but then was blessed with a Senate appointment when #JimDeMintia left to run the organization that invented the individual insurance mandate.

      Atlas shrugged. Jesus wept.

      by trevzb on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 12:30:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  SC-01 is a coastal district (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LordMike, jncca, AdmiralNaismith

      and it's a much tougher seat for Dems than John Spratt's old seat; the SC coast hasn't been represented by Democrats for over three decades.

      •  Well, maybe it will, now. (0+ / 0-)

        Now that you've identified the district for me, I can see that they've taken out what was the most conservative county in the previous 1st, the northernmost coastal county including Myrtle Beach.  Seems to me, the GOP overreached a little in their efforts to make six lean-Repuke districts, and made the 1st a little bluer.

        It can be won, if we put some effort into it.  Wonder if Steve will promote his sister, and what effect it will have.  Family values and all that.

        Cover me, Melvert! I gotta leave the Sovrin Independent Free Market Collective of Fortress Libertopia to go get our disability checks!

        by AdmiralNaismith on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 08:31:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  it will be interesesting to see if... (0+ / 0-)

    the inevitable negative (and likely personal) attacks on Elizabeth will irk Stephen enough for him to have trouble maintaining the faux conservative bit.

    "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

    by JackND on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 12:51:41 PM PDT

  •  Go Colbert-Busch (0+ / 0-)

    So, what has she been doing lately in terms of campaign strategy?

  •  The good news (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, jncca, IndianaProgressive

    Is that Colbert-Busch has a decent shot of beating Sanford in the special election.

    The bad news is that it will be extremely difficult for her to hold onto the seat for the long run, or even past the 2014 election.

    •  True, but a win here would ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LordMike, davybaby, interstate73

      1 -- Get positive news attention that a Democrat can win a white-majority district in the South -- if we'd lose it a year later, it won't dominate a news cycle or two.

      2 -- It would mean Mark Sanford would be humiliated and rejected again!

      •  That's how I'm thinking. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LordMike, jncca, IndianaProgressive

        I could care less if they elected a Democrat. Even if they won the special, we'd almost certainly lose it in the general. But what I do care about is Mark Sanford. This man shouldn't be allowed within 10 miles of public office. I will do everything within my power to make sure he doesn't weasel his way back in again (and I want to be able to say "Sanford finally gets to take that hike" when he loses LOL).

        Barbara Buono for NJ Governor 2013, Terry McAuliffe for VA Governor 2013

        by interstate73 on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 06:31:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Here's to a better tomorrow, tomorrow in SC! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, sacman701, jj32, R30A
  •  Hey no reason not to contest this one. (3+ / 0-)

    Democrats in South Carolina have nothing to lose. This one just may be in reach. Elizabeth Colbert-Busch is a great candidate, with a solid record in business & public service, crossover appeal, & enough campaign cash to be competitive. The Republican nominee has some obvious baggage. SC-01, though pretty conservative, is 55% female, an obvious opening in this election. Also, Republican strongholds Horry & Georgetown counties were lopped off in the last redistricting to create SC-07, which might make this district slightly less conservative than before.

    Right now this one looks like a toss-up to me, though I'd still consider it an upset if ECB pulls it off. But, there's absolutely no downside for the Democrats. If we lose, it's just the district acting true to form. And the Republicans will be saddled with a representative who will be the punch line of a thousand jokes. If we win, we get a good Democrat who just may be able to hold the seat. It will have Republicans reeling just a bit. It will draw some positive media coverage, which SC could surely stand to have. But most important, it will generate some positive momentum for SC Democrats desperately in need of some good news. Momentum matters in politics, & a win here could help set the stage for taking down Nikki Haley in 2014.

    For a state Democratic Party looking to get up off the mat, this would be a great place to start.

    •  Bravo !! I second that post (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LordMike, Christopher Walker

      Very well stated.  What have we got to lose?

      One thing that hasn't been mentioned here, is that with completely open primarys here, a few hundred, perhaps a couple thousand of Sanford votes were actually Democrats seeking to give ECB the best shot of winning in May.  Obviously they won't be voting for him, and would be voting for her.

      Also, the GOP establishment has NEVER liked Sanford.  The legislature and Sanford were at odds the whole time he was Governor (overode 88% of his vetoes).  They don't owe Sanford anything, and do NOT want to see him make a comeback.  

      Anyone supporting one of the other GOP candidates has an incentive to vote for ECB too.  If she wins, their candidate has a second chance in 2014, but with much more time   to establish a campaign.  If Sanford wins , their candidate now has to unseat an incumbent in his own party primary.  If they vote strategically, they will vote for ECB.    

         

  •  Sanford could get the Latino vote if Esteban (0+ / 0-)

    Colberto and his chicas appear at a campaign event for him. Such a campaign appearance should go over well with SC conservatives.

    "They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the American economy. The full faith and credit of the United States of America is not a bargaining chip."

    by TofG on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 06:55:11 PM PDT

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