- FCC’s new ‘net neutrality’ proposal sparks outrage among consumer advocates
- Families of ferry’s lost confront South Korean officials
- 2-week truce for Sriracha hot sauce maker, California city
- NYC’s de Blasio seeks to ban wood-burning fireplaces
- Residents angry Obama mispronounced town’s name during mudslide visit
- Israel halts peace talks with Palestinians
- Netanyahu’s driver accused of raping girls under age 12
- Putin calls Internet ‘CIA project’ that must be controlled
- Muslims offended that 9/11 museum movie speaks of jihad
- Obama marks Armenian massacre, avoids using the word ‘genocide’
Late moves gave Sanford new life in S.C. House fight
Republican Mark Sanford’s campaign for South Carolina’s open House seat was slumping two weeks ago when he gambled on a stunt many at the time ridiculed: He “debated” a life-size poster-photo of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The move, which many compared with Clint Eastwood “conversation” with an empty stool meant to be President Obama at last year’s Republican convention, was staged as a protest over what he said was a refusal by his Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, to agree to multiple debates ahead of Tuesday’s special election.
But his main motivation was to portray his opponent as an uncompromising liberal in lock step with Mrs. Pelosi and other national Democrats — a political death knell in the staunchly Republican coastal Carolina district.
Mrs. Colbert Busch — sister of TV comedian and political satirist Stephen Colbert — has pushed back, saying she would be an independent voice for the district. But the faux debate, and Mr. Sanford’s follow-up attacks, gained traction, and his campaign since has surged.
“It was a reminder that the Democratic Party nationally has a lot of different positions than the majority of the 1st District,” said Gibbs Knotts, chairman of the political science department at South Carolina’s College of Charleston.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the district, which includes Charleston, by 18 percentage points over President Obama last November.
“I think that [fake debate] did work and I think it was a smart way to tie — not just her to a particularly individual — but [her] to the amount of money that came in” to her campaign from Democrats nationally, Mr. Knotts said.
By Sunday, a poll by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling showed the race had become a toss-up, with Mr. Sanford ahead by 47 percent to 46 percent. Only two weeks earlier, a PPP survey had Mr. Sanford trailing by 9 percentage points.
Mr. Sanford once was a rising star in the Republican Party who was whispered as a possible 2012 presidential candidate. But his reputation and career unraveled after he infamously disappeared in 2009, officially to “hike the Appalachian Trail,” while instead traveling to Argentina to visit his mistress.
He quietly finished his second term as governor in early 2011 and kept a low profile since jumping into the House race this year.
His career seemed on the rebound after he won his party’s primary last month to fill the congressional seat vacated when Mr. Scott was appointed to the Senate. But he was back in the headlines last month for the wrong reasons when his ex-wife, Jenny, filed a complaint accusing him of trespassing on her property during the Super Bowl.
But momentum shifted to Mr. Sanford’s in recent days. And with election day rain possibly tempering Democratic voter turnout — critical to Mrs. Colbert Busch in a district where registered Republicans far outnumber Democrats — many political experts say the former governor is in good position to win back the same House seat he held from 1995 to 2001.
“I would give a tiny edge — a tiny edge — to Sanford pulling it out simply because [the district is] so Republican,” said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics. “It’s close but it will be truly be a surprise if Sanford loses it.”
Yet political forces likely will make it difficult for the winner to repeat in the 2014 election.
Mr. Sanford has been shunned by much of the Republican Party establishment since his 2009 scandal. If he wins, the Republican establishment expectantly would put its weight behind a formidable opponent in the 2014 GOP primary.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Raised in Northern Virginia, David R. Sands received an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He worked as a reporter for several Washington-area business publications before joining The Washington Times.
At The Times, Mr. Sands has covered numerous beats, including international trade, banking, politics ...
- SANDS: Fields set for next month's U.S. championship chess tourneys
- SANDS: High-powered Webster claims second straight college chess crown
- SANDS: Rematch point: Chess champions, challengers often meet again
- SANDS: Steady Anand earns rematch with Carlsen for world chess title
- Anand earns rematch against Carlsen for chess title
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Obama's veil of secrecy is pierced
- In its hunt for Senate, Republican candidates campaign against Harry Reid
- Obamacare class-action suit opens a new legal front
- List Hillary Clinton's successes? State Dept. spokeswoman flubs answer
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- 'Conservatives' should feel exposed by Bundy's racist comments: Scarborough
- Obama avoids 'red line' for China, prepared to impose tougher sanctions on Russia
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- Sold out: Ukraine's leadership swapped best military weapons for cash
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014