The Campaign Spot

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

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.’”


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.”


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