Monday, May 6, 2013

It Is Election Day South Carolina (May 7, 2013)

Contrary to popular belief, there are indeed important elections in 2013 and one of them is tomorrow.

In a battle made for reality TV, Democrat Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, sister of Stephen Colbert, will take on Republican Mark Sanford to represent South Carolina’s first district in the House.  Sanford is the former Governor who in June, 2009, told his aides he was going hiking in the Appalachians while actually dallying with a woman who was not his wife in South America.  He was “missing” for six days.  Subsequent to his return, the affair was exposed.  But he managed to avoid resignation and his term expired in January, 2011; due to term limits, he could not run for re-election anyway.  The woman is now his new wife.

The reason for this race is intriguing enough, as well.  Republican Senator Jim DeMint, the Tea Party leader of the Senate, resigned right after Election Day to become the head of the Heritage Foundation.  Governor Nikki Haley, the first woman Governor of South Carolina, named Representative Tim Scott to replace DeMint, making him the first African-American Senator from South Carolina, the first from the South since Reconstruction, and the only one serving in the current Senate (until Mo Cowan was also appointed as the interim to fill John Kerry’s seat in Massachusetts).  Tim Scott was representing SC #1 at the time of his appointment, thus creating the open seat.

Mark Sanford represented this same district from 1995-2001.

This is a district that Romney carried by 18 points in 2012, but the race, according to the latest polling by both PPP and RRH is extremely close.  PPP has been doing monthly polling and Colbert-Busch was actually ahead by a marginal +2 in March and her lead expanded to +9 in April.  The April poll was taken shortly after Sanford had been caught breaking into his ex-wife’s home for trespassing (he concocted yet another cover story involving watching TV with his son).  But apparently the electorate has forgotten that in the face of Sanford’s relentless portrayal of Colbert-Busch as a liberal, which is quite true, as both May polls show a virtual deadlock (47-46 and 46-46).

Sanford’s weirdest moment of this campaign – well, apart from the break-in – was his sidewalk “debate” with a cardboard cutout of Nancy Pelosi.  Apparently he decided to steal a page from the Clint Eastwood playbook.  After all, that was soooo successful!

One might think that if Colbert-Busch manages to win this, she may only claim the seat until the next election.  After all, it is hard to envision a worse candidate than Sanford for the GOP to put forward, and this district is clearly quite red.  But if Sanford is the best candidate they could find this time, is there really a better one out there?

But a Colbert-Busch win would be quite an upset, a headliner that would spark talk of being a bad omen for Republicans for 2014.  Even though it is a bizarre enough race that it probably means little beyond tomorrow.

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