Tag Archives: Mark Sanford

Sanford’s Next Challenge

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 1, 2017 — We all remember former Gov. Mark Sanford’s ignominious exit from the South Carolina political scene in 2010, a year after his international extra-marital affair became worldwide news. His political exile did not last long, as he was able to return to the US House in 2013, winning a special election for the Charleston-anchored congressional district after then-Rep. Tim Scott (R-Charleston) was appointed to the Senate after incumbent Jim DeMint (R) resigned from office.

Considering the way in which Sanford left office, which before engaging in the affair was widely regarded as a successful governorship to the point of him being mentioned as a potential 2012 presidential candidate, his quick return to elective politics was surprising. And, his re-election to the district he previously represented from 1995-2001 proved rather extraordinary.

After winning the 2013 special, Sanford did not even draw a Democratic opponent in the 2014 regular election, capturing 93 percent of the vote against only minor party opposition.

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House Re-Set

Completing our two-part series examining the congressional political picture (the July 8 Political Update covered the Senate outlook), today we look at the House.

Currently, 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats comprise the body’s membership. Three seats are slated to soon become vacant: Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) will be sworn into the Senate upon official certification of his late June special election victory; Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL-1) announced his resignation effective in mid-August to accept a position at the University of Alabama; and Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC-12), should he be confirmed, will become the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency thus leaving the House at an undetermined date.

In contrast to the 2012 cycle when 62 seats were open, at this point only 14 members have announced their retirements, accepted new positions, or are running for a different office. Three others: representatives Robin Kelly (D-IL-2), Mark Sanford (R-SC-1), and Jason Smith (R-MO-8), have won special elections since the current 113th Congress began making a grand total of 17 seats that have opened, or will open, since the 2012 general election. Of the fourteen currently projected open seats, eight are Republican held and six Democratic.

Toss-Ups

Attributable to a tight national redistricting model, only eight seats are now in this column. Six of those belong to Democrats (representatives Ron Barber (AZ-2), Scott Peters [CA-52), Patrick Murphy (FL-18), Joe Garcia (FL-26), Mike McIntyre (NC-7), and Jim Matheson (UT-4)], while only two are Republican-held [representatives Gary Miller (CA-31) and Mike Coffman (CO-6)]. Therefore, the GOP is in a slightly better position to gain a small number of seats.

The Leans

Both parties have just about an equal number of “lean” seats. Majority Republicans have 18 of their members or open seats rated as Lean Republican, while  Continue reading >

Sanford!

Seemingly against all odds, former governor Mark Sanford (R-SC) successfully re-claimed his former congressional seat with a stunning 54-45 percent victory over Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch last night in southeastern South Carolina. The race drew major national attention because of Sanford’s highly publicized extra-marital affair and alleged violation of his divorce agreement, along with the Democratic nominee’s status of being the sister of Comedy Central television personality Stephen Colbert. Colbert Busch’s inability to dodge the liberal label, however, proved to be her undoing in this conservative Charleston-anchored 1st Congressional District.

It’s rare when a nominee winning a seat that overwhelmingly favors his party is considered an upset, but that’s exactly what happened last night. Sanford, running as a Tea Party endorsed fiscal hard-liner, successfully made his budget discipline message the focal point of the campaign and not his continuing personal scandals.

The Democrats poured a steady stream of money into the race, sensing that they could steal a solidly Republican seat and use the victory as a building block to support their 2014 House majority plan. Last night’s defeat is clearly a setback for them. When the final accounting is completed, the tally will likely show that Colbert Busch and the outside organizations supporting her or opposing Sanford spent between $1.7 and $2 million. Sanford, accompanied by very little outside spending, will come closer to, but will likely fall under, $1 million in total expenditures.

Earlier we projected that the former governor and congressman needed a high turnout to win because Colbert Busch would likely benefit from a lower voter participation rate. The former occurred. The final unofficial tally shows a total of 143,774 votes cast, from which Sanford garnered 54.0 percent. The total represents 31.6 percent of the 455,702 SC-1 registered voters.

Special elections commonly record total turnout numbers in the 100-120,000 range.  Continue reading >

King Won’t Run for Senate; SC-1

Rep. Steve King (R-IA)

Rep. Steve King (R-IA-4)

Via Twitter, as seems to be today’s norm for declining to run for political office, Rep. Steve King (R-IA-4) announced yesterday that he will not seek Iowa’s open Senate seat next year.

“I will not run for Senate in 2014. A Senate race takes me out of urgent battles in Congress that can’t wait until 2015,” King tweeted. “Many thanks to all.” Obviously, the message is an indication that he will continue his congressional service in the House, and is at least a tacit indication that he will seek re-election.

The move is likely a politically intelligent one for the congressman, even though he was virtually assured of the Republican nomination. Polling was explicit that the conservative King was the top choice of Iowa GOP primary voters. But, it was also obvious that he was fighting major head winds in the general election, and not just from Democrats.

Prior to Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D) announcement earlier in the year that he would not seek re-election in 2014, former George W. Bush political chief Karl Rove announced the formation of his Conservative Victory Project, which is designed to unite the Republicans around a winnable general election candidate. It was made painfully clear upon Sen. Harkin’s announcement that Rove does not believe King can win statewide, leading to him making public overtures for Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA-3) to run.
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Sanford Pulls Ahead

Public Policy Polling released the results of their final special election survey (May 4-5; 1,239 likely SC-1 voters) of the SC-1 race and they confirm that former governor Mark Sanford (R) now has the upward momentum heading into tomorrow’s vote. According to the data, Sanford has taken a 47-46 percent lead over Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D). Green Party candidate Eugene Platt posted 4 percent.

In the last PPP poll taken in mid-April, Busch had a 51-40 percent lead. Sanford’s favorability rating is still an upside down 43:54 percent, but that has improved from 38:56 percent. Busch’s rating dropped to 50:44 percent from 56:31 percent favorable to unfavorable. The key reason for her recession is being painted as a liberal. According to the data, by a margin of 47-4 percent, the respondents rated her as being too liberal. Forty-three percent said she is just “about right” ideologically.

Tomorrow’s race is back to a dead heat with Sanford now having the clear momentum. A Sanford victory tomorrow would be stunning, considering how far behind he had fallen just two weeks ago while enduring the National Republican Congressional Committee pulling out of his race.

Sanford Closing; Gomez Within Four

Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D)

Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D)

Tomorrow is Election Day in the SC-1 special and there are signals that former governor Mark Sanford (R) is rapidly closing against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Public Policy Polling is scheduled to release a final survey of the race later today. There was a local poll floating around last week that actually showed the race tied, but the data did not appear reliable so the results should be discarded.

But there is a sense that the trends are moving in Sanford’s direction. During the last week, senators Lindsey Graham (R) and Tim Scott (R) both endorsed the former governor and congressman, as did Gov. Nikki Haley (R). Normally, it is not particularly noteworthy when the party elected officials endorse a party nominee but, in this case with Sanford’s well-publicized problems and the National Republican Congressional Committee publicly disowning the race, the actions do show some positive momentum for the damaged candidate.

As always is the case with special elections, the turnout model will be key. A lower voter participation figure will likely favor the Democrat because the district is heavily Republican. Busch must still be considered the favorite, but the result may be closer than was predicted just a week ago.
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Sanford Does it Again!

Mark Sanford (R)

Mark Sanford (R)

Mark Sanford is in trouble again. Allegedly violating his divorce agreement with his ex-wife Jenny Sanford, the former South Carolina Republican governor now faces a trespassing hearing two days after the May 7 special election. In response to the latest controversy, the National Republican Congressional Committee released a statement saying they will not fund the special election. This all but assures Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch will now win what should be a safe Republican seat.

Though it appeared Republican voters were willing to give Sanford the second chance he requested, it is highly unlikely that they will award him a third such opportunity. Thus, the string of bad Republican luck and performances they have experienced in special elections during the past few years looks to be continuing.

If Busch Wins

Let’s turn the clock ahead to the regular election next year, when Republicans should be well positioned to reclaim the seat from a Congresswoman Busch. With many potential candidates such as former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic, state Sen. Larry Grooms, state Rep. Chip Limehouse, and businessman Teddy Turner, among others waiting in the wings, it appears the GOP will field a strong opponent to Busch in the regular election.
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Is the Math in Colbert Busch’s Favor?

Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D) is now officially opposing ex-governor Mark Sanford (R) in a South Carolina congressional district that should vote for a Republican in every election. But, as we all know, the special vote to replace Senator Tim Scott (R) is very different, and it is clear, because of Sanford’s unpopularity after his highly publicized extra-marital affair became international news, that Busch does have a chance to win.

Like everything in politics, it all comes down to mathematics. On paper, Sanford has the easier victory path. Mitt Romney scoring 58.3 percent of the vote as compared to President Obama’s 40.2 percent, provides a clear gauge about this electorate’s strong Republican penchant. So far, at least 26,066 people have already voted for Sanford versus 15,802 who have cast a ballot for Busch. The most important general election voters, however, could be the group of 20,005 Republicans who have already voted twice in this three-tiered election, but have yet to support Sanford.

The big question, of which the answer probably determines the final outcome, is just how many of those 20,000 anti-Sanford Republican voters will actually vote for Elizabeth Colbert Busch? While true this group does not particularly like Sanford, they are also Republican primary and run-off voters, thus illustrating at least somewhat of a commitment to the GOP. Will they eschew their party loyalty in this special general election in order to avoid supporting Sanford? Or, will they simply stay home and not participate? The answers to these questions are race-defining.

Since 2000, the highest turnout for a regular South Carolina primary election has been 26 percent of the registered voters. Since this special election will attract a great deal of attention, it may be reasonable to assume that the turnout could reach, or even surpass, this figure. On the other hand, keeping in mind that the primary turnout was a combined 16.2 percent, while 10.6 percent of the registered voters returned for the Republican run-off, it is hard to imagine  Continue reading >

Sanford Continues South Carolina Comeback

Mark Sanford (R)

Mark Sanford (R)

When scandal-ridden former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford (R) first announced he was attempting a political comeback by running in the current special congressional election cycle, many voters and political observers scoffed at his chances of victory. Last night, Sanford overcame the critics and quite possibly the odds as he won his Republican nomination with a rather impressive 57-43 percent victory over former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic.

This sets up what promises to be a competitive special general election campaign with Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of Comedy Central comedian Stephen Colbert, even though South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District should be safely Republican.

As is typical for Palmetto State run-off elections, 85.6 percent of the number of primary voters returned to cast ballots for the secondary vote. The state, which features only two-week run-off cycles, performs better in turnout terms than others having a two-tiered nomination system. In most of those places, it is common to see participation levels drop by 50 percent or more. In yesterday’s GOP run-off, 46,071 individuals voted as compared to the 53,793 who cast ballots in the special primary election.
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Sanford Leads in Run-off Poll

Public Policy Polling (March 22-24; 1,175 likely SC-1 special election voters; 648 self-described Republican run-off voters) released the results of their first post-special primary survey and found scandal-plagued former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford (R) to be leading ex-Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic (R) by a 53-40 percent count. The poll suggests that Bostic has so far failed to coalesce the substantial anti-Sanford vote behind his candidacy. In the first election, featuring 16 Republican candidates, the former governor placed first with 37 percent of the vote, while Bostic just grabbed second place with 13 percent.

But the most surprising part of PPP’s poll is how the two Republicans fare against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the special general. Despite SC-1 being a heavily Republican district, the data shows that Busch has a small 47-45 percent lead over Sanford and ties Bostic at 43 percent.

The two results are surprising in different ways. First, many would believe that Busch’s lead over Sanford would be greater considering his heavy personal negatives in conjunction with his highly publicized international extra-marital affair. But Bostic, on the other hand, without carrying such heavy political baggage should actually be in a stronger position than a dead heat when being paired with the Democratic nominee.

The Republicans have had trouble winning special elections during the past few years, even in strong partisan seats such as the one in southeast South Carolina. The April 2 run-off is only a little more than a week away, which now stacks up well for Sanford. Based upon this now available polling data, expect the special general to be much more competitive than originally forecast.

Mark Sanford: Anything but Conventional

Disgraced former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford successfully cleared the initial obstacle on his political comeback trail earlier this week, but how will he fare in the fast-approaching Republican run-off?

On the heels of his first-place finish in the special 1st Congressional District Republican primary election, the ex-governor and congressman, who is trying to rehabilitate himself politically from his international extra-marital affair that ended his marriage and soured his final year in office, must now win over a significant segment of Republican voters who supported another candidate.

Curtis Bostic, the former two-term Charleston County councilman who placed a distant second to Sanford, is tasked with converting an even larger portion of that same group. Though both man’s message is identical — each claims to be the strongest candidate in relation to cutting government spending — their campaign strategic and tactical challenges are much different.

On Tuesday, 53,657 Republicans participated in the special primary election. From that group, 19,812 individuals, or 36.9 percent voted for Sanford. Bostic attracted 7,149 votes (13.3 percent). Though placing second by less than one percent over third-place finisher Larry Grooms caused the triggering of an automatic recount under South Carolina election law, the latter conceded defeat, hence the original vote tallies will stand. The remaining 26,696 people, or 49.8 percent, chose a Republican candidate other than the first- and second-place finishers. It is the members of this group who will likely determine the run-off result.

As is the case in all run-off elections, the secondary turnout will be smaller than the original primary voting universe. In South Carolina, the typical drop-off from primary to secondary election tends to only be in the 15 percent range, however. In fact, the last time a run-off occurred in the 1st Congressional District (2010) the drop-off  Continue reading >

What Sanford’s First-Place Finish Means

Mark Sanford (R)

Mark Sanford (R)

Former Gov. Mark Sanford (R) easily claimed the top position in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District’s special primary last night, capturing 37 percent of the vote within a huge field of sixteen Republican candidates. He will advance to the April 2 run-off election against former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic, who nipped state Sen. Larry Grooms for second place.

The former governor and three-term congressman broke 40 percent in his home of Charleston County, the district’s most populous region. But, in terms of the fast approaching run-off election, even his 41 percent finish in Charleston is light years away from scoring a 50 percent plus one majority vote. District-wide, 63 percent of the Republicans who went to the polls chose a candidate other than Sanford, even though the former governor has universal name identification. Still, considering the hardened negative image after his extra-marital affair with an Argentine mistress became international news, Sanford’s showing last night does indicate that he retains a base of residual support.

Bostic, the man the ex-governor will face in the run-off election, claimed 13 percent of the vote, edging state Sen. Grooms’ 12 percent. Teddy Turner, the son of media mogul Ted Turner, finished fourth with 8 percent. It was a disappointing night for the  Continue reading >

Sanford’s First Step in S.C. Comeback Attempt

The preponderance of political opinion suggests that disgraced former Gov. Mark Sanford (R) will advance into the second round of voting as a result of today’s special primary election in South Carolina. Sanford is among 16 Republicans vying to become the party nominee for the right to replace former Rep. Tim Scott (R), who is now an appointed US senator.

The ex-two-term governor, who spent three terms in the House during the 90s (1995-2001), ended his tenure in statewide public office with revelations of a wild extra-marital affair with a South American mistress. The associated events became national news and ended up costing the governor his marriage as well as a great deal of personal credibility. Now, he’s looking for a political comeback and, if local predictions prove accurate, he may be taking the first step to achieving his goal tonight.

Even if he advances, Sanford will be a decided underdog in the run-off regardless of who becomes the other qualifier. For a person with universal name ID to finish more than 15 points away from majority support in a first election normally dooms said candidate to defeat in the succeeding run-off. In this case, noting South Carolina’s traditionally short run-off periods, the second election is scheduled for April 2.

The strongest candidates, other than Sanford, appear to be state Sen. Larry Grooms, state Rep. Chip Limehouse, former state Sen. John Kuhn, and Teddy Turner, son of media magnate Ted Turner. State Rep. Peter McCoy and Rep. Andy Patrick are also in the field of candidates but neither has made any impact on the fundraising circuit, gathering less than $65,000 apiece.

The Democratic side is also drawing some attention. Though their eventual nominee will be a decided underdog in the May 7 special general election, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, sister of Comedy Central TV personality Stephen Colbert, is poised to capture her party’s nomination. Like the top  Continue reading >