Author Archives: Jim Ellis

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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Daschle Drafting Johnson

It’s within a different generation, but the Daschle family is again supporting a member of the Johnson clan for statewide South Dakota political office. Nathan “Nate” Daschle, former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle’s (D) son, is leading an organized effort to draft Brendan Johnson for the US Senate. The prospective candidate’s father, Tim Johnson, is the incumbent senator who announced last week that he would not seek re-election in 2014. Brendan Johnson is South Dakota’s US Attorney, and has been mentioned as a possible Democratic Senatorial candidate.

In a published open letter to Brendan Johnson, Daschle writes, “it’s time for a new generation of leadership in South Dakota, and Brendan Johnson has the smarts, vision, and compassion to move this state forward. You won’t find anyone more committed to South Dakota’s future than Brendan. His candidacy would re-ignite our state’s great potential, and I think we would be lucky to have him serve in the U.S. Senate.”

The fact that a member of the Daschle family would publicly come forth so quickly to promote Johnson likely tells us something about the Democrats’ other top potential candidate, former representative Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. It is unlikely that Daschle would commit this early to Brendan Johnson if he, and the Democratic establishment, actually believed the ex-congresswoman was planning to run. Furthermore, of the two, Herseth Sandlin is obviously the stronger campaigner, making Daschle’s action even more indicative.

The Republican nominee is likely to be former Gov. Mike Rounds, who has been running since the 2012 election concluded and figures to be the favorite for the general election.

IA-3: The First Drop-out

Several weeks ago, wealthy investor Michael Sherzan (D) announced a challenge to Iowa Rep. Tom Latham (R) in the Des Moines-  Continue reading >

Why Ashley Judd’s Announcement is Bad News for McConnell

Ashley Judd, Publicity Photo, "Missing"

Ashley Judd, Publicity Photo, “Missing”

Confirming a trend that appeared to be developing over the last two weeks, actress Ashley Judd announced through her Twitter account yesterday that she will not challenge Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) next year.

It was fast becoming clear, including to those leaders of the national and Kentucky Democratic Party apparatus, that Judd would not match up favorably with McConnell, who has proven himself as one of the stronger veteran Republican campaigners in the current political era. Because his victory percentage dropped to 53.0 percent in the Obama presidential year of 2008 from a high of 64.7 percent in 2002, Democrats are feeling more optimistic about their 2014 Kentucky Senate chances.

The state is an interesting one from a political context. Though it now performs as solid Republican territory during presidential contests, Democrats are still more than competitive, if not routinely favored, in statewide and local elections.

While the GOP now dominates the state’s congressional elections, particularly when considering freshman Rep. Andy Barr’s (R-KY-6) upset of incumbent Ben Chandler (D) last November to increase the party’s delegation to a 5R-1D split, Democrats are  Continue reading >