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Tags: Mark Sanford

Guess Who Has No Democratic Opponent in 2014?



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Remember about a year ago, when Democrats spent a fortune to defeat former governor Mark Sanford in a special House election? Elizabeth Colbert Busch spent $1.8 million, and the House Majority PAC and the DCCC spent $884,000 on independent expenditures.

The deadline for filing papers for a race for Congress in South Carolina was March 30. No Democrat filed papers to run for Congress in South Carolina’s first congressional district. (Independent candidates have until July 15 to file the papers.)

Unless some independent candidate jumps in, Representative Mark Sanford will run unopposed for Congress in 2014. From an underdog to unopposed in just a year!

Tags: Mark Sanford

Did Sanford’s Comeback Trigger the Weiner and Spitzer Bids?



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If former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford’s comeback bid for the U.S. House had failed earlier this year, it’s possible that scandal-ridden former governor Eliot Spitzer and former congressman Anthony Weiner wouldn’t have launched their comeback bids.

“If he can do it, I can do it” is an optimist’s mantra, and it requires the public to gloss over any differences.

When Sanford’s disappearance from the state became public knowledge, he returned to the U.S. and, in front of the cameras, Sanford confessed his sins . . . and kept talking . . . and kept talking . . . and kept going until almost everyone in the state begged him to stop talking about it. A messy divorce followed; a state legislative ad hoc committee voted to censure but not impeach him. (Sanford may have been helped by the fact that quite a few political factions in South Carolina wanted the lieutenant governor, Andre Bauer, to have a leg up in the upcoming gubernatorial race.)

In some voters’ eyes, adultery is adultery, and the details don’t matter much. But Sanford’s scandal didn’t quite fit the standard template of political sex scandals. Rather than the usual chasing-the-secretary-around-the-desk, Sanford and Maria Belen Chapur had met in person just four times in eight years, and the two wrote effusive e-mails, calling each other “my love” and “sweetest”; Sanford later publicly referred to Chapur as his “soul mate.” The govenor and Jenny Sanford had separated, at her request, when he went on the infamous trip to Argentina.

After the Sanfords divorced, the governor and Chapur got engaged. In a country where roughly half of all marriages end in divorce and 19 percent of marriages that occurred in 2008 were the second marriage for at least one spouse, the sad ending to Mark and Jenny’s marriage is regrettable, but hardly uncommon.

Weiner, of course, did not confess when caught. He vehemently denied the reporting of Andrew Breitbart about the lewd images and claimed his Twitter account had been hacked; he and more than a few allies, like CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin, suggested that Breitbart was probably lying. The controversy triggered days of questions about how and why someone would hijack Weiner’s account to send out those photos, and increasingly implausible comments from the congressman, including his famously telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he could not say whether or not the photo was of his own underwear-clad private parts. Weiner let his friends, like Kirsten Powers, go out and lie for him, contending the allegations couldn’t be true. He audaciously denied the charges with indignation, calling a reporter a “jackass” during a press conference.

A few days later, Weiner called a press conference in a hotel in New York City to admit that, indeed, that was him in the photo, and he had engaged in sexual chat with young women on Twitter. But before Weiner arrived, Breitbart stepped up to the microphones and “hijacked” the press conference, denouncing Weiner for lying and the media for uncritically repeating his lies.

Spitzer’s scandal was not mere impropriety; it was illegal. What’s more, Spitzer had, as attorney general, led the prosecution of two alleged prostitution rings and other companies he believed had ties to prostitution. Here’s the reasoning from Michael Garcia, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, on why he didn’t press charges:

ELIOT SPITZER has acknowledged to this Office that he was a client of, and made payments to, the Emperors Club VIP.

Our investigation has shown that on multiple occasions, Mr. SPITZER arranged for women to travel from one state to another state to engage in prostitution. After a thorough investigation, this Office has uncovered no evidence of misuse of public or campaign funds. In addition, we have determined that there is insufficient evidence to bring charges against Mr. SPITZER for any offense relating to the withdrawal of funds for, and his payments to, the Emperors Club VIP.

In light of the policy of the Department of Justice with respect to prostitution offenses and the longstanding practice of this Office, as well as Mr. SPITZER’s acceptance of responsibility for his conduct, we have concluded that the public interest would not be further advanced by filing criminal charges in this matter.

Resigning from the governor’s office appears to represent “Spitzer’s acceptance of responsibility for his conduct.” Spitzer believes he’s spent enough time in the penalty box of the private sector, hosting shows on CNN and Al Gore’s Current TV, and is ready to return to public life.

As the song goes, “It’s up to you, New York.”

Tags: Mark Sanford , Anthony Weiner , Eliot Spitzer

Can Anthony Weiner Get Voters to See Beyond His Scandals?



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The only thing holding back Anthony Weiner’s mayoral campaign is the fact that the candidate is Anthony Weiner.

The intriguing thing about Weiner’s video announcing his mayoral candidacy is that if it weren’t from Anthony Weiner, almost everyone would concur with his assessment of what ails the city: a cost of living that crushes the middle class, “regulations that nickel and dime small businesses to death,” schools that can’t provide a good education for every child, “the people who put everything they had into this city are getting priced right out of it.” But voters — and certainly the media — may not hear any of that; they’ve got a mental picture in their heads that just won’t go away.

It will be interesting if we see a similar dynamic as in Mark Sanford’s recent successful comeback bid in South Carolina: Everyone outside of the locality knows the politician for his scandal and finds his return to office unthinkable, while those within the locality have known the politician since the beginning of his career — and evaluate him on more than the scandal.

Tags: Anthony Weiner , Mark Sanford

The Name ‘Pelosi,’ the Voldemort of Red House Districts



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Today’s Morning Jolt features a preview of the Benghazi hearings, praise for an NR colleague, and then last night’s big news . . . 

This Just In from South Carolina: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

Hey, Democrats. You just spent a bundle and lost . . . to Mark Sanford.

The argument that we can’t learn anything about 2014 from an individual special House race is generally true. But Alex Roarty of National Journal — a.k.a. that insider, non-conservative publication that National Review staffers are often mixed up with — repeats my point from yesterday: Democrats put a lot of money and effort into this race, against a Republican candidate they thought was uniquely beatable. (And in fact, he was. But “uniquely beatable” doesn’t always mean you will beat him.)

Now we see all of that Democratic spending gained nothing: $1.2 million in donations to Colbert Busch, more than $929,000 on independent expenditures against Sanford . . . FLUSH!

And there is a lesson for 2014: Mark Sanford managed to overcome the electorate’s wariness about him by emphasizing that a vote for his opponent was a vote for Nancy Pelosi and the Obama agenda. Red-state and red-district Democrats have always had a tough balancing act, emphasizing how they’re not like those other Democrats; Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the end just wasn’t a talented enough candidate to pull that off. (In short, she wasn’t that talented a candidate at all. “The Solyndra of the South,” as Nathan Wurtzel summarized.)

Any remaining red-district Democrats really have to run hard from Pelosi from now until November 2014.

Moe Lane:

This should have gone to the Democrats; but, well, there’s that pesky albatross. May Nancy Pelosi stay House Minority Leader, well, forever. . . . If they can’t win House seats in R districts under these circumstances, they won’t win ‘em under more even ones.

Betsy Woodruff was at the victory party:

There will be lots of analysis in the days to come about what this election means, but one thing isn’t up for debate: Mark Sanford knows how to campaign, and his win here is due at least in part to his tireless canvassing and cheerful willingness to ask for the vote of anyone who would listen to him.

When he arrived at the victory party, Sanford was in full-on retail-politics mode. I followed the former governor on the campaign trail the day before the election and wrote about his perpetual handshaking and small-talking. Winning the election doesn’t seem to have tempered his pace. When he arrives at the party, he laps around the front of the building (which, a server tells me, is more crowded than it’s ever been), posing for pictures and hugging supporters.

Two things are different from the day before, though: First, he’s wearing a suit instead of stained khakis and busted-up shoes, and actually looks like someone who might belong in the halls of the Capitol. And second, he’s got his oldest son, Marshall, in tow. He looks around for his son every minute or two — when he loses sight of him, he asks the nearest staffer, “Where’d Marshall go?” and whenever he gets a chance, he introduces the 20-year-old to supporters who haven’t met him.

Mark Sanford’s sister, Sarah Sanford Rauch, isn’t far behind. She’s one of his veteran campaign volunteers, and she’s outspoken about her support for her embattled brother. I ask her how she feels.

“Exhausted,” she tells me. “It’s the toughest race I’ve ever been in. I’ve helped out on a bunch of races, but this is the toughest, by far.”

“You wake up every morning and you look at the newspaper and you wait to see what anvil is getting dropped on your head each day,” she adds.

Somebody else is feeling the headache this morning.

In other words, while Pelosi has always had a handful of members who were likely to stray, she can expect even less agreement from members like Jim Matheson of Utah (R+16), Nick Rahall of West Virginia (R+14), Mike McIntyre of North Carolina (R+12), John Barrow of Georgia (R+9), and Collin Peterson of Minnesota (R+6) — and perhaps Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona (R+4), Patrick Murphy of Florida (R+3), Pete Gallego of Texas (R+3), and Ron Barber of Arizona (R+3). Because if invoking Pelosi was key to Sanford overcoming the well-funded Colbert Busch, imagine how it will play in districts where the Republican doesn’t have Sanford’s baggage?

Tags: Mark Sanford , Elizabeth Colbert Busch , Nancy Pelosi , House Democrats , House Republicans

Mark Sanford's 10-Event Campaigning Days



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If Mark Sanford succeeds in his improbable comeback tomorrow, a lot of people will be asking, “How did he do it?” A serious answer will be: “He just outworked his opponent.”

Earlier today, Dave Weigel tweeted, “Sanford has 5 campaign stops today — one avail already — before Colbert Busch’s first event.” Sanford has eleven public events scheduled today; Colbert Busch has five.

The week of April 22, he did 15 public events. She did six in those five days, according to her campaign’s web site. He did three public events Wednesday; she did one. He did three public events Thursday; she did none. He did ten events public Saturday, she did five.

He did take Sunday off; she did three events that day.

Sanford’s campaign just announced he’s doing 10 events tomorrow, before his Election Night party:

7:45 AM — Pages Okra Grill, 302 Coleman Blvd, Mt. Pleasant

8:30 AM — Huddle House, 261 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Mt. Pleasant

9:15 AM — Brown’s Court Bakery, 199 St. Philip Street, Charleston

10 AM — Vote — 75 Calhoun Street, Charleston

11 AM — Pep Boys, 1550 Savannah Highway, West Ashley, Charleston

11:45 AM — Moe’s Southwest Grill, 1812 Sam Rittenberg Blvd., West Ashley, Charleston

12:45 PM — Cookout Restaurant, 8968 University Blvd., North Charleston 29406

1:30PM — Alex’s Restaurant, 309 St. James Avenue, Goose Creek

2:30 PM — Piggly Wiggly, 9616 Highway 78, Suite 1, Ladson

4 PM — Farmer’s Market Mt. Pleasant, Moultrie Middle School, 645 Coleman Boulevard, Mt. Pleasant

7:30 PM — Watch Party — Liberty Tap Room & Grill, 1028 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Mt. Pleasant

A busy campaign schedule can’t completely change the dynamics of a race, but it certainly can’t hurt, as long as the candidate can keep the energy and enthusiasm up.

Tags: Mark Sanford , Elizabeth Colbert Busch

The Sudden Shift in South Carolina’s Polls



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This is not what Democrats wanted to or expected to see, the day before South Carolina’s special House election:

PPP’s final poll of the special election in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District finds a race that’s too close to call, with Republican Mark Sanford leading Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch 47–46. The 1 point lead for Sanford represents a 10 point reversal from PPP’s poll of the race two weeks ago, when Colbert Busch led by 9 points at 50–41.

Sanford has gotten back into the race by nationalizing it and painting Colbert Busch as a liberal. A plurality of voters in the district — 47% — say they think Colbert Busch is a liberal compared to 43% who characterize her as ideologically ‘about right.’ Colbert Busch’s favorability rating has dropped a net 19 points compared to 2 weeks ago, from +25 then at 56/31 to +6 now at 50/44.

While Colbert Busch is seen as too liberal, 48% of voters think that Sanford’s views are “about right” on the issues compared to just 38% who see him as too conservative. Sanford’s also seen some repair to his image over the course of the campaign. Although he’s still unpopular, sporting a –11 net favorability rating at 43/54, that’s up a net 13 points from our first poll in March when he was at 34/58.

A ten-point shift!

Either the Sanford campaign is a bunch of messaging geniuses . . . or perhaps Colbert Busch’s lead was never that high. As our Betsy Woodruff notes, “Representative James Clyburn (D., S.C.) told reporters at the press conference today that internal polling data never gave Colbert Busch more than a 3-point lead.”

Do PPP polls often show the Democrat performing six points better than their internal polling?

The pollster further explains:

The other key development in this race over the last two weeks is that Republicans are returning to the electorate. On our last poll, conducted right after the trespassing charges against Sanford became public, we found that the likely electorate had voted for Mitt Romney by only 5 points in a district that he actually won by 18. That suggested many Republican voters were depressed and planning to stay home. On our final poll we find an electorate that’s Romney +13 — that’s still more Democratic than the turnout from last fall, but it’s a lot better for Sanford than it was a couple weeks ago.

Or perhaps the previous sample just wasn’t a realistic portrait of the likely turnout in this district, even in a special election, and even with these unusually high-profile candidates?

For what it is worth, last week a poll commissioned by Red Racing Horses showed the race tied. So Sanford may have the momentum, but it’s not over until the votes are counted tomorrow night.

Tags: Mark Sanford , Elizabeth Colbert Busch

New Poll Shows Sanford, Colbert Busch Tied



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For what it’s worth:

Less than a week before the contentious special election between Mark Sanford (R) and Elizabeth Colbert-Busch (D), a RRH/PMI automated survey of 650 likely voters in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District finds the race as close as can be, with both candidates taking 46 percent of the vote and 7 percent undecided. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 5 percent. . . .

2012 presidential results in the survey were 54% Romney, 41% Obama. This result shows a turnout marginally more Democratic than the turnout in the 2012 presidential election, in which Romney won the seat 58-40. The relatively Democratic electorate suggests somewhat high enthusiasm among Democrats and liberals, and somewhat decreased enthusiasm among conservatives.

The electorate we found was 60% Female and 40% Male. The electorate was weighted to the following racial balance: 79% White, 15% African American, 2% Hispanic, 1% Asian, and 3% Other races.

Polling and forecasting turnout in a special election is particularly difficult; the usual low turnout of special elections is likely to be mitigated in this case with two candidates with higher-than-normal profiles, a former governor known for an infamous scandal and the sister of a television comedian. Normally, one could conclude that a currently undecided voter would be unlikely to vote on Tuesday, but this race seems to be anything but normal.

Having said that, it will be interesting if turnout Tuesday really splits 60–40 along gender lines.

The Democratic firm Public Policy Polling will survey the district again this weekend.

Tags: Elizabeth Colbert Busch , Mark Sanford

South Carolina’s Special Election and the ‘Political-Investor Community’



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Over on the homepage, I have an interview with Mark Sanford, getting his sense of the race in South Carolina’s first congressional district, and what’s at stake in the special election:

GERAGHTY: We’ll get the official spending numbers in the near future, but what’s your sense of how badly you’re being outspent? I’ve heard some people say anecdotally they’re seeing four or five ads for Colbert Busch for every one ad for you.

SANFORD: That’s correct; it’s been a four- or five-to-one ratio — which is not what you want in the world of politics.

People are scratching their heads and saying, “Wait a minute, if the Democratic party is willing to put this kind of money into this race, why do they want this seat so badly?” . . . What’s going on here is much larger than the first congressional district. This is the first congressional election since Obama was reelected president of the United States. He has said that he wants to take the Congress in 2014 to ensure his legacy. The reason they’re pouring so much money into this race is that they believe that if they can win here, they can argue to the political-investor community that they can win the other 15 seats that they need to take back the House. There is much more in play than actually meets the eye.

GERAGHTY: The supporters of your runoff-primary rival, Curtis Bostic, are a group of several thousand Republicans who have had the chance to vote for you twice in recent months and who have chosen someone else twice. These are voters who presumably would prefer a conservative candidate to a liberal candidate but who may have some disagreements with you. What’s your approach to winning over these voters?

SANFORD: I’d say my approach is to win them over one by one. I spend a lot of time going out and doing traditional retail politics. We just came out of Hubee D’s, a chicken-finger place west of Ashley. I talk to folks literally from all walks of life. I don’t think there’s any magic formula for reaching those folks, but we’re certainly beginning that process.

Keep in mind, though, Colbert Busch herself said at the debate that she was pro-choice. I don’t think that fits in in any way with those Bostic supporters’ beliefs, either on choice or on a whole range of other issues. Colbert Busch has been largely undefined: She was unwilling to debate for the entire month of the general election, and this is the first change in that. If you’re not certain where someone is, folks will sometimes give you the benefit of the doubt, but that life-focused community of Bostic supporters, I think, were probably paying attention to what she said in the debate. It will travel out anecdotally.

Tags: Mark Sanford , Elizabeth Colbert Busch

Sanford, Colbert Busch Debate; Issues Accidentally Enter House Race



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Last night’s debate between Elizabeth Colbert Busch and Mark Sanford aired on C-SPAN. (The video is not embeddable but can be seen here.)

The lead of the Post and Courier’s coverage of the Mark Sanford-Elizabeth Colbert Busch debate includes a revealing word:

The race for Tim Scott’s former congressional seat finally turned to issues Monday, as Republican Mark Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch met for the first — and probably only — time.

Naturally, this morning the Democrats’ House Majority PAC announces they’ll be running new ads hitting Sanford on the affair.

There are no economic problems. There is no debt. There is no tough decision to be made on how to deal with illegal immigrants, and there is no controversy about gun control. The implementation of Obamacare is going fine. There are no problems beyond our shores, in places like North Korea or Syria, that any voter should spend a moment thinking about. There is only the affair. The affair knows all, the affair sees all, the affair is the answer to all voters’ questions. When the voters in South Carolina’s First Congressional District go to the polls on May 7, they will not see two names on the ballot. They will see only, “Do you like the affair that occurred back in 2009?”

For what it’s worth, Red Racing Horses is conducting a poll in the district, and recently Tweeted, “VERY early unweighted results from the first half-day looking surprisingly good for @MarkSanford. Weighting will change the results dramatically. But back of the envelope calculations and the entire first day results suggest that.poll Thursday will probably show a close race between Mark Sanford and Colbert Busch.”

Tags: Mark Sanford , Elizabeth Colbert Busch

Sanford: I’m Eager to Share a Stage With My Opponent



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Down in South Carolina’s first congressional district, Republican nominee and former governor Mark Sanford is relaunching his campaign with a furiously busy schedule, eager to refocus the race about any topic besides his former marriage, his current fiancée, Jenny Sanford’s accusation of trespassing, or other personal issues.

This weekend his campaign announced “15 in 5” — a series of 15 campaign stops across the district, where he has invited Elizabeth Colbert Busch to “join him and discuss issues jointly with Lowcountry voters.” In news that will surely shock you, Colbert Busch is not expected to appear at this week’s events.

Today’s Sanford events will be at Hay Tire Pros in Mount Pleasant at 11 a.m., Page’s Okra Grill in Mount Pleasant at noon, and Holt Transmission Service in Charleston at 1:30 p.m.

The Charleston Post & Courier notices:

So far, the 1st Congressional District race has featured a little bit of everything — except Republican Mark Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch meeting face to face to talk issues.

Only one forum has been set: an April 29 appearance at The Citadel. Other groups, such as the Goose Creek NAACP, are trying to arrange more but with no success to date.

Colbert Busch has not committed to the NAACP’s April 30 forum and was unable to make a South Carolina AARP debate that was to be held April 17. That event was going to be televised, but the April 29 forum is not scheduled to be on TV.

For all her advantages, Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch doesn’t seem to want to get up on stage with Mark Sanford.

Tags: Mark Sanford , Elizabeth Colbert Busch

Sanford: I Was Watching the Super Bowl With My Son



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The campaign of Mark Sanford has issued a statement from the candidate about the allegations of tresspassing at the home of his ex-wife, Jenny Sanford:

Charleston, SC – April 17, 2013 – Former Governor Mark Sanford today released the following statement:

“It’s an unfortunate reality that divorced couples sometimes have disagreements that spill over into family court. I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14 year old son because as a father I didn’t think he should watch it alone. Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen, and met her at the back steps under the light of my cell phone when she returned and told her what had happened.

“There is always another side to every story, and while I am particularly curious how records that were sealed to avoid the boys dealing with embarrassment are now somehow exposed less than three weeks before this election, I agree with Jenny that the media is no place to debate what is ultimately a family court matter, and out of respect for Jenny and the boys, I’m not going to have any further comment at this time,” Sanford said.

 

UPDATE: And with that, the National Republican Congressional Committee reveals they will no longer be making an effort in this race.

Tags: Mark Sanford

Comparing Our Two Most Recent Improbable Comeback Attempts



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The Wednesday edition of the Morning Jolt features a lot of discussion on what we know, and don’t know, about the Boston Marathon bombing, and then this gradual return to “normal” politics:

Contemplating the New Sanford-Weiner Era

Oh, goodness, do we need a lighter, sillier topic.

Anthony Weiner, you’ll do.

As a guy who was not opposed to Mark Sanford attempting a political comeback, I suppose I should attempt to extend the same mentality to Anthony Weiner.

But he’s not going to make this easy.

Anthony Weiner sounded contrite in his first TV interview in two years, as the disgraced Democrat considers whether to run for New York City mayor.

“I think I’ll be spending a lot of time, here on out, saying I’m sorry,” Weiner told New York 1 in an interview that aired Monday night.

Weiner’s political future is now a source of fascination and speculation, following a lengthy New York Times Magazine cover story and the release of a 64-point plan to improve New York City. The Democratic primary for mayor is in September.

Weiner, 48, declined to go into detail about the sexting scandal that led him to resign from Congress in 2011. When asked by the 24-hour news cable channel to go into some of the specifics — such as how many women received lewd photos and messages from him — Weiner would only say “more than one person, several people.”

“I have been excruciatingly honest, in letter by letter, detail by detail, with my wife,” Weiner told New York 1. “An embarrassing amount is in the public domain … But out of respect for the idea that I’ve laid it all out for her and out of some respect for the privacy of the people who were at the other end of these correspondences, who had their lives turned upside down, I am not going to go into the details of every bit of it.”

Ahem.

From Andrew Breitbart’s book:

The next twenty-four hours—even though it was Saturday of a Memorial Day weekend—were going to be critical. We knew that the organized left was going to wage war, and by the time I woke up the next day, after launching the story, I realized that the Democrat-Media Complex was playing for keeps. For starters, the Daily Kos, the proto–Huffington Post whose founder, Markos Moulitsas, is still granted Meet the Press airtime, published a post immediately declaring war on me. Without bothering to investigate the veracity of our allegations, the Kos post simply declared: “Breitbart to use SEX SMEAR on Rep. Anthony Weiner.” The post was later updated to accuse me of faking the photograph. (Kos, months earlier, led the charge on another Saturday morning when he tried to blame me for the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords by the insane Jared Loughner. Within these battles against prominent Internet lefties, there are no repercussions when their side lies, cheats, and attacks. How could Kos get away with publishing a declaration of war, without having the facts, even after having been proven so egregiously wrong in trying to connect a political enemy to the despicable behavior of a lone, crazed gunman? As Dennis Prager often says, being a liberal means never having to say you’re sorry.) …

On day two of the Weiner scandal, conspiracy theories were building steam suggesting that there had in fact been a hacker, or hackers. One such theory was that PatriotUSA76—the still-unnamed person who drew my attention to Weiner’s errant re-tweeter—was the alleged hacker. The second one, which was started by the Daily Kos and took on a life of its own, became the narrative Congressman Weiner was hoping would stick—namely, that I was the alleged hacker. While I was screaming back into the phone, amid picturesque cacti and red, rocky terrain, I put the phone on mute and looked at my wife and friends and emphatically told them: “I have no choice. I apologize profusely. I’m fighting for my media life.” At one point, I tried to explain to the other two husbands what was going on. “Have you ever heard of Congressman Anthony Weiner?” I asked. Both had a passing knowledge of his existence. “Well, I’m in the middle of breaking a story that will be huge, if I can just get past Memorial Day and into the real news cycle.”

Affairs are bad; I think the wrongdoing is exacerbated when you attack, or let others attack, the folks who are telling the truth about you.

For contrast, once confronted with his wrongdoing, Mark Sanford didn’t deny it. He laid it all out, in cringe-inducing detail, at the South Carolina State House upon his return from Argentina. In fact, within a few days, most people, left, right and center, wanted him to please stop talking about it and going into the way-too-personal details.

(I’m fascinated by which details of the Sanford story entered the national consciousness and which ones didn’t; when I mention that Jenny Sanford had known about the governor’s mistress in Argentina for six months before the public revelation, that the pair had begun a trial separation and that the pair had not spoken for two weeks before that day, most folks are surprised. All of these facts are written on page one of the prologue of Jenny Sanford’s book, Staying True.)

Anyway, this is why I… oh, for heaven’s sake, Governor, what have you done now?

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford must appear in court two days after running for a vacant congressional seat to answer a complaint that he trespassed at his ex-wife’s home, according to court documents acquired by The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The complaint says Jenny Sanford confronted Sanford leaving her Sullivans Island home on Feb. 3 by a rear door, using his cell phone for a flashlight. Her attorney filed the complaint the next day and Jenny Sanford confirmed Tuesday the documents are authentic.

The couple’s 2010 divorce settlement says neither may enter the other’s home without permission. Mark Sanford lives about a 20-minute drive away in downtown Charleston.

Jenny Sanford said Tuesday that she has custody of the couple’s four boys.

She said the complaint has nothing to do with her former husband’s efforts to rebuild his career in politics. She said it was filed with the court the day after the incident and when a family court judge last month set the case for the docket, it happened to be two days after the election.

“I am doing my best not to get in the way of his race,” Jenny Sanford told the AP. “I want him to sink or swim on his own. For the sake of my children I’m trying my best not to get in the way, but he makes things difficult for me when he does things like trespassing.”

Tags: Mark Sanford , Anthony Weiner

Colbert Busch Appears to Prefer a . . . Selective Campaigning Schedule



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How much will voters in South Carolina’s first congressional district see of Elizabeth Colbert Busch before Election Day?

Next week’s debate at the Medical University of South Carolina, sponsored by the AARP and Channel 2, is now canceled. Mark Sanford’s campaign says he was game. Her campaign is Tweeting an announcement for a debate later in the month, on April 29, so presumably she’ll attend that one. The Sanford campaign proposed two other debates — one on CNN, the other sponsored by the Rotary Club of Charleston — and says they’re still waiting to hear if Colbert Busch will agree.

Then there are these inconvenient points in a mostly glowing article in the Charleston Post & Courier:

Colbert Busch’s only public Charleston event this week was a call into her West Ashley campaign office . . .

The call lasted just a few minutes, but Jim Pierson, a Colbert Busch volunteer from James Island, said he thought it was an effective message.

When Colbert Busch held a kick-off event this month at an assisted-living center on Johns Island, a dozen elderly residents sipped champagne as they listened to Colbert Busch give a cheerful, brief speech.

She didn’t talk about federal policies or campaign issues. Instead, she just celebrated her primary win, thanked them for inviting her back, and she said she would keep them in her thoughts.

However, she did tour a hospital today.

Tags: Elizabeth Colbert Busch , Mark Sanford

Sanford: Let’s Do At Least Four Debates This Month



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Remember how Elizabeth Sanford Busch, the Democrat running for Congress in South Carolina’s First Congressional District, seemed a little shaky in one of her first national television appearances?

It appears Mark Sanford’s campaign wants to get the two candidates in front of the cameras and microphones as often as possible:

Former Governor Mark Sanford today accepted invitations for the following debates and forums, and encouraged his Democratic opponent to accept these four invitations – and possibly even more – to give the voters of the First District a chance to see both candidates confront issues side by side.

The debates accepted by Governor Sanford are as follows:

·         AARP– April 17th

·         Patch/SC Radio Network – April 29th

·         Rotary Club of Charleston – April 30th

·         CNN – April 30th

“I look forward to meeting with my opponent to discuss issues that matter to folks across the First District, like what we’re going to do to get our fiscal house in order, what is the proper role of government when it comes to jobs and the economy, and how best to address the nation’s healthcare challenges,” Governor Sanford said. “During the last several months traveling the First District, what I’ve heard consistently is that people want to have a real, open, substantive exchange of ideas on these issues and a host of others. I would encourage my opponent to also accept these invitations.”

Four debates… or more!

In other news, Colbert Busch has released her first television ad, declaring, “as a single mom raising three young children, I had to be independent and do what’s right for them. Now, I’m going to take that lesson to Congress.”

By the way, her campaign did issue a statement in response to Sanford’s challenge yesterday, that the Clemson Wind Turbine Research reported to the government that it had created or saved only 134 jobs at about $320,000 per job.

“This is just another perfect example of Mark playing fast and loose with the facts.1 The wind turbine project has, and will, create good-paying jobs right here at home for American workers.2 The project is still under construction3 and studies show the wind power industry in South Carolina is projected to create as many as 20,000 jobs4. When it comes to our energy, we don’t need an ‘either/or’ policy,5 but a business-minded comprehensive approach in order for America to truly become energy independent from foreign oil.6 As a businesswoman, I’m proud of bringing together both the public and private sectors as partners that can invest in South Carolina not only today, but for generations to come.”

1. An accusation.

2. Does not contradict Sanford’s assertion.

3. An excuse; the project began work in spring 2010 and has, according to the federal government’s figures, never “created or saved” more than 35 jobs at any one time.

4. A big promise that blurs the scope of this project and the job creation of the entire wind power industry in the state.

5. A non sequitur.

6. Outdated rhetoric; the United States is currently exporting more gasoline, diesel and other fuels than we import.

Tags: Elizabeth Colbert Busch , Mark Sanford

Sanford: Are $320,000-Per-Job Stimulus Projects Worth It?



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If you’re wondering how Mark Sanford will attempt to shift the discussion in South Carolina’s first congressional district from you-know-what to actual policy issues, today his campaign offers its first example: whether the stimulus passed by the federal government back in 2009 represented a good use of taxpayer dollars.

You see, Elizabeth Colbert Busch has spent the last five years as director of business development at Clemson University’s Restoration Institute, which is heavily involved in wind-turbine research and development — and a big recipient of federal funds from the 2009 stimulus.

The release from the Sanford campaign:

Former Governor Mark Sanford today visited with a local small business owner to ask the “$320,000 question” of the Congressional campaign:

Could you create more than one job with $320,000?

For the past three years, Governor Sanford’s opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, has helped advance the Wind Turbine Drivetrain Testing Facility, which has largely been funded via the 2009 stimulus — something Governor Sanford vehemently opposed all the way to the state Supreme Court. Colbert Busch is also on record calling the facility a good example of the kind of project the stimulus should have supported.

The problem?

After a $43 million stimulus infusion, according the Obama Administration’s own statistics the facility has “created or saved” only 134.12 jobs.

That equates to more than $320,000 per job, in fact if you were to include other public monies the number gets closer to $500,000 per job!

Governor Sanford has long argued that the stimulus would not have the desired effect of growing the economy, and in fact would impede economic recovery. In fact, in 2009 he wrote that as a nation we cannot, “solve a problem of too much debt with yet more debt.” Instead, Governor Sanford has argued for lower taxes and limited spending as keys to growing the economy.

Governor Sanford today visited Lyerly’s Cleaners in Mount Pleasant — as he will with other small businesses across the 1st District — to talk one-on-one with business owners about whether they would prefer more in the way of economic “stimulus” or more in the way of tax cuts and regulatory relief.

“I have no doubt they’re doing some great research over at the Drivetrain Institute, but to me it comes back to the ideas of return on investment, and the proper role of government in the economy,” Sanford said. “Some believe that it’s government’s role to try and drive the economy, but as we all saw back in 2009 it just didn’t work, and some would argue it actually prolonged our recovery because it froze would-be investors who wondered when the next bailout would take place. I believe a key difference in this race is going to be whether one believes it is small business that drives the economy, or whether one believes it is government borrowing that does so, and I look forward to having that debate with my opponent over the coming weeks.”

I asked Sanford’s folks how they came up with the $320,000 per job figure; they pointed to Recovery.gov.

According to the data, the program began “creating or saving” jobs sometime in spring 2010, when it somehow managed to “create or save” one-tenth of one job. The following quarter it “created or saved” 8.09 jobs, then down to 2.82, bouncing up and down, peaking at 34.78 jobs in spring 2012, and creating or saving 3.64 jobs in the most recent quarter from October to December 2012.

If you take all of the federal funds awarded so far, and divide that figure by the sum total of jobs “created or saved” in all of the quarters so far, you get $320,608.41.

(Perhaps defenders of the stimulus, or Colbert Busch, will attempt to help them by insisting that this is just a matter of the project managers reporting nonsensical numbers to the federal government as part of the Recovery.gov accountability efforts. Nothing to worry about!)

His opponent’s messaging is . . . different. Today, Colbert Busch’s Facebook page linked to her economic policy, declaring that the sequester cuts are “mindless” and that “We need to provide our entrepreneurs and innovators opportunities to succeed.”  Also, her Twitter feed has spent two days letting people know where they can pick up yard signs.

Tags: Elizabeth Colbert Busch , Mark Sanford

Mark Sanford: The Plywood and Spray-Paint Candidate



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See the plywood signs behind Sanford at last night’s runoff-victory celebration? That’s not a mistake; that’s one of the themes of his campaign.

Sanford’s always had pretty solid fiscal-conservative bona fides, and he’s emphasizing how frugal/cheap he is by using leftover plywood for his campaign signs. I suppose the message is, “if he’s that careful with his campaign’s money, he’ll be that careful with taxpayer money.”

Tags: Mark Sanford

Yes, Let’s Meet Those Candidates in South Carolina!



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From the Wednesday edition of the Morning Jolt . . .

Mark Sanford Wants a Shot at Redemption; He Doesn’t Want to End Up a Cartoon in a Cartoon Graveyard

Last night, former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford beat his rival, Curtis Bostic, in the runoff for the special House election in that state’s first congressional district. He won 26,066 votes, or 56 percent. (In the March 19 Democratic primary, with a little-known primary rival, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch won 15,082 votes.)

Whatever your joke about hiking the Appalachian Trail, Mark Sanford’s probably heard it already. He’s addressed it in interview after interview. In that ad in the Packet I linked to yesterday, he published his cell-phone number for anyone who had questions. He’s attended just about every candidate gathering during the primary process and held plenty of public events; he did 13 public events in the final four days of the campaign, taking Easter Sunday off. Bostic missed enough events to sway one of the other GOP competitors, former Dorchester County sheriff Ray Nash.

Love him or hate him, Sanford put himself before the voters again and let them decide whether his scandal made him unfit for office. He’s paid the price for his actions in the end of his marriage and in censure by the state legislature. We know exactly what he did wrong, and it’s been hashed out in the national stage, the cable shouting shows, and the late-night monologues. From what we can see, he’s on good terms with his sons, he’s on civil, if weird, terms with his ex-wife, Jenny Sanford, and he’s engaged to María Belén Chapur.

Are he and the constituents he seeks to represent allowed to move on? Can the coming weeks be about the economy and the debt and the other big issues facing the nation and the state’s first congressional district? Or will the next four weeks be an endless cavalcade of four-year-old “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina” jokes?

Sanford knows the tide he’s swimming against here. Take a look at this blazing enthusiasm for Sanford: “At Knightsville Elementary School, Joy McCreight sighed and said she’d voted for Sanford, ‘the little snake.’”

[Beat]

We all made the same joke in our heads just now, didn’t we? See, then I don’t need to write it out.

Stu Rothenberg called out Elizabeth Colbert-Busch’s campaign for releasing only portions of her internal poll:

It’s also a little worrisome that the Lake Research polling memo and Colbert Busch campaign press release single out the candidate’s strong favorability rating (61 percent) in Charleston County. Why include only Colbert Busch’s favorability number in Charleston County, the most Democratic of the district’s larger counties? Why not also note her favorability numbers in Beaufort and Berkeley counties, two Republican counties that together have a larger population than Charleston?

I think we can all guess the answer to that question: The polling memo is little more than an attempt to generate momentum and dollars for Colbert Busch’s campaign, rather than a vehicle for shedding light on where the race stands and where it might go. So the campaign and the campaign pollster release only those numbers consistent with the memo’s purpose.

Dear national press: if you plan on covering this race, it might be nice to mention something about Elizabeth Colbert-Busch beyond her famous brother.

Of course, Colbert Busch may be attempting to be the first woman elected to Congress without ever taking a stance that anyone, anywhere, might disagree with.

You think I exaggerate? She opposes sequestration, but doesn’t go into much detail about how she wants to replace it, beyond, “a long-term budget deal that gets the nation on track for economic growth.” Swell.

She declares, “we need to drop the foolish idea of across-the-board cuts and use the regular Congressional process to enact measured, targeted cuts.” But other than ending Medicare overpayments and targeting fraud, she doesn’t mention any cuts.

Guess what her view on Obamacare is? “Everyone is either all for the Affordable Care Act or all against it. It’s time to be practical and not political. I believe there are good and bad provisions in the new law and that more needs to be done. I will work with patients, providers, hospitals and businesses in the 1st District to implement what works and fix what doesn’t.” In short, her message is that she supports the popular parts, and opposes the unpopular parts.

She declares Social Security “is safe for more than the next 20 years. We should use that time to consider modest changes that will extend its life for another generation of Americans. I would start by looking at changes that would not affect our seniors or those nearing retirement today, but in the long term would adjust Social Security contributions and benefits for the wealthiest Americans.” No sense of what those “adjusted” contributions and benefits would be, of course.

On education, she writes, “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride . . .” Okay, that one I just stuck in there to see if you were paying attention. Her real stance is . . . eh, not that different from the Whitney Houston lyrics: “I passionately believe that quality public education is the key to our future: It must be available to all of our children from pre-k to high school, technical school and beyond.”

I’ve seen edgier stands in Hallmark cards.

So you know what’s going to define this race? If the voters of South Carolina’s first district get to know anything about what Colbert-Busch wants to do in Washington beyond these kumbaya clichés.

Mark Sanford issued the following statement on his victory in the runoff for the Republican congressional nomination for South Carolina’s first district:

“First and foremost, I’m humbled and overwhelmed by the support we’ve received across the district, and more than anything, I’d like to thank the people of the 1st District for choosing me from a great field of Republican candidates,” Sanford said. “As well, I’d give real credit to my runoff opponent, Curtis Bostic, for the campaign he’s run.

“I’ve always said that this race is not about people, it’s about ideas — but the ideas being advanced by myself and my opponent in this general election that starts right now couldn’t be more at odds with one another. My record is one of cutting debt, eliminating deficits, reducing taxes, and working to make sure businesses are more competitive. On the other side, we have more of the same of what has gotten our country into the mess that it’s in — a belief in government and government spending on things like the stimulus are a cure to all ills, an alliance with unions that should be truly disconcerting to places like Boeing and a whole lot of other businesses out there, and a belief that the government approach to healthcare represented by things like Obamacare is the right direction for our nation.

“The bottom line is that there will be a very clear contrast between the ideas we’re putting forward and those of my opponent, and I look forward to that contest of ideas on the campaign trail in the coming few weeks.”

Tags: Elizabeth Colbert Busch , Mark Sanford

Sanford Wins South Carolina House GOP Runoff



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The Associated Press has called the South Carolina special House primary election for Mark Sanford.

At this hour, he leads with 14,227 votes to Bostic’s 11,552, a 55 percent to 44 percent split.

Charleston County, the most populous county in the district, is proving a Sanford stronghold; the former governor leads 59 percent to 40 percent with about two-thirds of precincts reporting.

Much to my surprise, Bostic made up a lot of ground in Beaufort County. He won only 8 percent in the first round but is currently leading that county, 52 percent to 47 percent; 73 out of 80 precincts have reported at this hour.

Clearly, Sanford will need to perform better here in the general-election matchup against Elizabeth Colbert Busch.

Dorchester was Bostic’s best county in the first round (18.4 percent) but proved a Sanford stronghold in the runoff. With two-thirds of precincts reporting, Sanford leads, 58 percent to 41 percent.

Tags: Elizabeth Colbert Busch , Mark Sanford

The Sanford-Bostic Showdown in South Carolina



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Yesterday’s Jolt offered my take on the GOP House runoff between Mark Sanford, the former governor infamous for his “Appalachian Trail” hike, and former Charleston County council member Curtis Bostic.

I spent last week in Hilton Head, which is in South Carolina’s first congressional district; polls opened a half-hour ago, and close at 7 p.m. tonight.

(Put aside your worries of Democratic mischief-making; if you voted in the Democratic primary two weeks ago, you’re not allowed to vote in the Republican runoff.)

The Sanford campaign ran an ad in Sunday’s Island Packet — a lengthy thanks to the district for the honor of asking for their vote, a reminder of the Cato Institute’s praise of his fiscally conservative ways, and oh yes, a rather large photo of Sanford and his sons — a not-too-subtle reminder that, “Hey, I’ve tried to put things right with my family as best I can.”

I’ve chatted with a couple of active Republican and Tea Party activists down here. If Sanford is the nominee, a certain number of Republicans won’t vote for him, citing the 2009 scandal and sense that Sanford embarrassed the state by traveling to Argentina and not telling anyone. (The affair is considered much less of an issue than his leaving the state under false pretenses.) Very few of those folks feel strongly enough about Sanford to vote for Elizabeth Colbert-Busch; they’ll just stay home.

Of course, if Bostic is the nominee, a certain number of Republicans will stay home as well. No doubt, Bostic has two key bases of support in evangelical Christians and home schoolers. As one Beaufort County resident put it to me, “I’m hearing folks saying, ‘my preacher says I should vote for him.’” The problem is breaking beyond that base, and branching out support beyond the Charleston suburbs into Beaufort County, into the retiree-heavy precincts along Route 278 and on Hilton Head Island. Bostic’s candidacy is pretty clearly built around his religious identity — he’s described himself as a Creationist — and that’s not quite the brand of conservatism that traditionally sells in this district. If last week’s Public Policy Polling survey is to be believed, it’s almost a wash when it comes to which candidate can unify the party: “Sanford (76%) and Bostic (72%) are both earning less than 80% of the GOP vote.”

The smart money is on Sanford winning, although Bostic could keep it close. PPP has Sanford ahead 53 percent to 40 percent, as of a week ago. The former governor starts with a base of about 20,000 votes who voted for him in the initial primary; almost all of those voters can be counted on to show up Tuesday, while Bostic starts from a base of about 7,000. There are about 22,000 Republicans who voted for some other candidate in the primary.

The DCCC is going to dump a ton of effort into this race either way (although not necessarily money, as they’ll probably bet that Elizabeth Colbert-Busch will be able to raise money through her famous brother’s endorsement). If they win, or even if it’s close, they can brag that they’ve managed to win a House race in South Carolina. Republican activists are a little nervous down here; they know that while this is a Republican district, it is one where Obama took about 40 percent of the vote in 2012. Normally, the lower-turnout special election should benefit the Republican. But with Colbert talking up his sister, and perhaps the national spotlight on a potential Sanford comeback, turnout could be considerably higher.

Of course, if Elizabeth Colbert-Busch’s brother had never made it big, no one would be arguing she belongs in the U.S. Congress. Her bio page features three pictures of her brother and four of her.

Tags: Curtis Bostic , Elizabeth Colbert-Busch , Mark Sanford

Sanford, Bostic to Debate in Hilton Head April 1



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Tommy Hatfield, organizer of the  Hilton Head Island First Monday Lunch Group, informs me that Mark Sanford and Curtis Bostic will attend a debate at their next meeting, held April 1 at Aunt Chiladas Restaurant in Hilton Head.

The Republican Primary runoff will be held the next day.

In other news, I’m reliably informed by sources within my family that Richard Geraghty, former president of the Hilton Head Island Republican Club, will be formally endorsing Sanford. 

Dad’s endorsing; I’m not, nor am I registered to vote in South Carolina. But if you feel that is worth keeping in mind when considering Campaign Spot coverage of this race, go ahead.

Tags: Curtis Bostic , Mark Sanford

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