South Carolina Primaries: Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch Are Top Contenders


On Tuesday, voters will head to polls in South Carolina’s first congressional district primaries with a few familiar names on the ballot, from former disgraced governor Mark Sanford, who was caught in the midst of an extramarital affair with a woman who is now his fiancée, to Stephen Colbert’s sister, Elizabeth Colbert Busch.

However, despite Sanford’s name-recognition, which will no doubt help him in the polls, it is unlikely that he will hit the 50% required to avoid a runoff on April 2. For one, he isn’t the only Republican candidate vying for the position. There are 15 other candidates in the race, making it difficult for Sanford to receive 50% of the vote.

And even though it is likely he will lead the primary with about a third of the vote, his rival for the April 2 GOP run-off is still up in the air.

According to Jason Miller, a top Republican strategist and Sanford’s media consultant and former top aide, “Anyone who tells you that they have a turnout model or know exactly how this is going to go on Tuesday ... is lying.”

There are some leading candidates out of the 15 who have a greater shot at the April 2 run-off than the others. One of those is state Senator Larry Grooms who has the backing of the Tea Party. Grooms also has the support of conservative big-wigs such as Reps. Jeff Duncan and Mick Mulvaney.  

There is also Teddy Turner, son of liberal CNN founder Ted Turner, who, despite having spent substantial cash during this election, has had trouble distancing himself from his surname. Being a Turner, he says, is hard because people think they know something about you when, in reality, they don’t. “It’s a tough position to be in because if you were John Smith and running in this race, nobody would have preconceived notions about you. They would talk to you about policies, they would talk to you about issues, they wouldn’t say, ‘Well, I can’t vote for you because Jane Fonda was your stepmother.’ So it makes it, you know, it’s difficult to get a fair shake,” he says.

There is also Chip Limehouse, a state legislator who is also well-known in the district. From his negative campaigning against Turner, it would seem that Limehouse sees Turner as his main contender.

Elizabeth Colbert Busch — sister of Stephen Colbert — on the other hand, who is up against only one other candidate on the Democratic side, is very likely to win the nomination Tuesday. This will give her sometime between now and the GOP run-offs before the Republicans are done launching attacks at one another and start zeroing in on her. The special general election will be held on May 7.