Elizabeth Colbert Busch is running to represent South Carolina’s first congressional district. And despite the many comedic campaigns of her brother, Comedy Central commentator Stephen Colbert, her run is certainly no joke.
The special election race is an interesting one, both for former occupants and its potential. The seat was vacated by now-Senator Tim Scott, a rising star in the Republican Party who, as a black conservative, adds a much-needed voice of diversity into the caucus. Colbert Busch has all but locked up the Democratic nomination. And her likely Republican opponent — notwithstanding a crowded GOP primary — is former Gov. Mark Sanford.
Sanford, despite strong Republican credentials, is perhaps best known for his 2009 affair with an Argentine woman. A subsequent ethics investigation revealed that he used state funds to conduct and hide his affair. Sanford’s recently released advertisement announcing his candidacy thanks “a God of second chances” and apologizes for his past indiscretions.
The district is quite conservative (Mitt Romney won there by 18 points), but Colbert Busch (and the national Democratic Party) is confident that she has a shot. She plans to make use of her brother’s influence and fundraising ability – Stephen is already slated for two upcoming fundraisers – and she has a strong connection with the district’s largest employer, Clemson University.
Although the election might seem insignificant, it could have national implications. The special election shortly precedes the 2014 midterms, so the outcome will be a good indicator of where each party stands. If the Democrats can pull an upset, they’ll have momentum going into a midterm cycle and a distinct possibility of retaking the House. (This phenomenon was apparent in Scott Brown’s upset Senate victory in 2009, undoubtedly a harbinger of the 2010 Democratic shellacking.)
Indeed, in the coming months, it will be interesting to see which party gets the last laugh.