Tomorrow, South Carolina’s first congressional district will hold its primaries for their special House election, created when Tim Scott became the state’s newest U.S. senator.
If no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote in the primary, voters will return to the polls in two weeks for a runoff contest between the top two finishers. The general election contest is May 7.
The Democrats are all but certain to nominate Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, the sister of television host/comedian Stephen Colbert; she faces a little-known rival, Ben Frasier. Colbert-Busch raised $309,559 by the end of February, and she’s likely to have her brother’s fan base eager to help her out financially. The Republican lean of the district is probably enough to ensure Colbert-Busch won’t win in the general election – Scott won with 62 percent in 2012 – but the GOP would be foolish not to keep an eye on her.
The Republican primary field is crowded and has plenty of sharp elbows. The candidates, in alphabetical order, are: Keith W. Blandford; former Charleston County councilman Curtis Bostic; “Ric” Bryant; state Senaator Larry Grooms; Jonathan Hoffman; Jeff King; former state senator John Kuhn; Tim Larkin; state Rep. Harry B. “Chip” Limehouse, III; state Rep. Peter Michael McCoy, Jr.’ Charleston County School Board trustee Elizabeth Moffly; former Dorchester County sheriff Ray W. Nash, Jr.; state Rep. Andy Patrick; Shawn Pinkston; former governor Mark Sanford; and Robert E. “Teddy” Turner, IV.
Tomorrow’s election really amounts to “the race to get into the runoff with Mark Sanford.” The former governor has enormous advantages in name ID and political connections in the district.
One ally of Mark Sanford who is close to the former governor characterizes the race as “wide-open for second place – big question is whether or not Chip Limehouse’s over-the-top attacks against Teddy Turner have worked. Would not be at all surprised to see several candidates within a percentage point of each other for that second place position.”
Another characterizes it as, “hard to say. I think the second spot goes to either Turner, Limehouse, or Bostic. Kuhn and Grooms seem to have fallen back a bit.”
Tommy Hatfield, the former Beaufort County Republican party vice chairman argues that the geography of the district will be key. He told me, “I believe it will be Sanford and Patrick. . . . Sanford is well known and reasonably well respected by most of the voters in the entire district. Patrick is getting a lot of support and endorsements in Beaufort County where other than Sanford, the other candidates are not well known. The other 14 candidates are all from the greater Charleston area, and will probably split that region’s votes among them.”