Monday, May 6, 2013

In final days, 1st District race moves to toss-up

A comeback within a comeback?

Posted by Sam Spence on Mon, May 6, 2013 at 5:37 PM

1st Congressional District polling places are open Tuesday, May 7 from 7am-7pm. To find out your voting location, visit scvotes.org.

Colbert Busch (left to right), Sanford, and Platt will be on the ballot on May 7
  • Jonathan Boncek, Governor's office
  • Colbert Busch (left to right), Sanford, and Platt will be on the ballot on May 7

Mark Sanford might pull it off. Two weeks ago, if someone had told you that the Appalachian Trail hiker, surprise fiancée introducer, alleged trespasser, Nancy Pelosi cutout debater, abandoned by his colleagues, down-nine-percent underdog ex-governor may have a shot at being re-elected to Congress, you'd probably react the way Tim Scott did when he was asked about Sanford's chances on April 16, "he only laughed and walked away."

In the closing days of the special election to replace now-Sen. Scott in Congress, Mark Sanford has mounted a comeback-within-a-comeback, and according to the most recent Public Policy Polling survey, taken over the weekend, he sits a point ahead of his Democratic opponent, 47-46, with eight percentage points tied up between Green candidate Eugene Platt and undecideds. In fact, in the past three days, headlines examining the race have ranged from "How Elizabeth Colbert Busch flipped the script on Sanford" to "Mark Sanford just might win South Carolina seat."

Consultants on both sides of the race are unsure of their candidates' chances, reports Roll Call, who found National and statewide politicos who concede that the race is too-close-to-call. On Twitter, South Carolina Democratic insiders questioned the methodology of the latest PPP poll, pining for a reason to hold out hope that Elizabeth Colbert Busch will take her "stage-managed, virtually mistake-free campaign" to the winner's circle on Tuesday evening.

If Sanford does emerge the winner of the race, it appears that his line of attack on Colbert Busch, tying her to labor unions and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, would have done more to help him than anything else. According to PPP, the endorsements of Nikki Haley, Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott last week each did more harm than good for Sanford, as did porn publisher Larry Flynt's. Meanwhile, with Democratic groups putting well over $1 million into the race to pump up Colbert Busch's chances, falling short on election day could affect whether those groups will be willing to go all-in for area Dems in future races. A Sanford win could, however, mean a silver lining for his opponents, says Roll Call, as Sanford becomes an easy target for Democrats looking to push the narrative of Republicans electing "damaged" candidates.

Whoever wins Tuesday will face re-election in November 2014, meaning that as soon as they set foot on their flight to Reagan National, they'll already be behind in fundraising compared to their congressional colleagues. A re-election fight was never going to be easy for Colbert Busch in the deeply red 1st District, but a win by Sanford could give him a place for him to finish out his revived political career. After all, if he can overcome 15 GOP primary opponents and a strong Democratic showing, who's going to defeat him?

1st Congressional District polling places are open Tuesday, May 7 from 7am-7pm. To find out your voting location, visit scvotes.org.

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