Runoff in South Carolina’s 1st CD today

posted at 8:41 am on April 2, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Today, one of the most interesting political contests for the next few weeks will take place, and no one seems to know what the status of the race actually is.  Curtis Bostic squares off against former governor Mark Sanford in the runoff for the Republican nomination to represent South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, a race that Bostic has tried to turn into a referendum on Sanford’s earlier scandal — as the two Republicans match up closely on most of the issues:

Sanford disappeared for five days while he was governor in 2009, telling his staff he was out hiking the Appalachian Trial. Later, he tearfully revealed at a Statehouse news conference he was in Argentina seeing a woman he later called his soul mate and to whom is now engaged.

Sanford, mentioned then as a possible presidential candidate, ended up divorcing his wife, Jenny.

Bostic says that behavior has left Sanford a compromised candidate who would give the Democrats a shot at taking back a district they have not held in more than three decades.

Sanford in turn has attacked Bostic for failing to turn in a financial disclosure form, including last night at a final “forum”:

Curtis Bostic attempted to use former Gov. Mark Sanford’s words against him in a debate Monday on the eve of the Republican runoff for the 1st Congressional District.

Sanford pushed back with criticism about Bostic’s failure to file a campaign-disclosure form.

The two squared off at a Hilton Head Island First Monday Republican Lunch Group forum — the last time the two men would debate before Tuesday’s runoff. It also was the only Beaufort County debate between the candidates.

Who’s poised to win today’s race and fight Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the special election to replace now-Senator Tim Scott? That’s a good question, since little polling has taken place in this primary, and none to my knowledge between the initial primary and today’s runoff.  Sanford scored an easy first place in the first primary, leading Bostic 37/13, but any anti-Sanford impulse would coalesce around Bostic rather easily.

The district seems safe enough that, contra Bostic, whoever prevails today should beat Colbert Busch.  As The State points out, Mitt Romney won this district by 18 points last November, although special elections such as these can produce big surprises, thanks to smaller turnouts and the resultant disproportionate impact of GOTV efforts.  We can bet that both national parties will sink a lot of money and effort into this race, simply because (a) a flip would provide all sorts of PR implications for both parties, and (b) nothing much else is going on until next month’s special US Senate race in Massachusetts.

What can we watch for in today’s race as it unfolds? Politico offers five keys to monitor, the first of which is the most important:


No one thinks the contest will attract a swarm of voters. It is, after all, a special election runoff that comes two days after Easter. But how many people show up to the polls will say a lot.

A big turnout — say, 45,000 voters or more — is likely to benefit Sanford, who entered the runoff campaign with more than five times the amount of cash on hand as Bostic and who has far larger reach throughout the district. Sanford, who spent eight years as governor and six years in Congress, is so well known that one adviser estimated that nearly 80 percent of the Republican voters in the 1st Congressional District had supported him in one of his prior primary campaigns.

A low turnout, meanwhile, is likely to help Bostic, who has heavily geared his campaign toward a niche demographic of social conservatives. Bostic is betting that those supporters are highly motivated and will show up to vote no matter what.

A big turnout will also make the national party feel better about the upcoming general election.  Colbert Busch needs a small turnout to beat the Republican nominee no matter who it is, as the Cooke rating for this district is R+11.  They’d also like to see the “country clubbers,” in Politico’s parlance, turn out in order to gauge their enthusiasm for staying active throughout the process.  That should favor Sanford, especially since it appears that retirees went strong for Sanford in the first round.

Turnout will be the main key to watch.  If it gets too small, Bostic will probably drive it — but that has bad implications for the main event.

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Good Luck Curtis!

dillydally on April 2, 2013 at 8:44 AM

Turnout will be the main key to watch. If it gets too small, Bostic will probably drive it — but that has bad implications for the main event.

So with high turnout we get the adulterer who abandoned his job. With low turnout we get the other guy and the Dems have a better chance of winning the election? SC-1 residents are screwed under any scenerio.

And, for the record, I hope Sanford loses and goes off into obscurity. He doesn’t deserve any elective office.

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2013 at 8:47 AM

Go Curtis!

annoyinglittletwerp on April 2, 2013 at 8:50 AM

SC-1 voters, do your duty, and nominate Bostic. The embarrassment that Sanford accrued by leaving his wife to hike the Appalachian Trail will get charged to the national Republican Party if Sanford gets nominated to return to Congress.

Your candidate, whoever he is, is going to be running against the sister of a famous comedian who has his own daily half-hour television show. Nominating Sanford, who is already the subject of mockery, is not going to help the image of the Republican Party.

J.S.K. on April 2, 2013 at 8:58 AM

“Mark Sanford is a serious fiscal and social conservative.”


Jeddite on April 2, 2013 at 9:01 AM

Who the hell is voting for Sanford?

crrr6 on April 2, 2013 at 9:12 AM

Jeddite on April 2, 2013 at 9:01 AM

Generally speaking, social conservatives do not abandon their jobs and family to chase tail in Argentina. Just sayin’

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2013 at 9:13 AM

I wish I could vote in that one, but I’m at the opposite end of the state. I’d love to get in there and vote against the adulterer.

backwoods conservative on April 2, 2013 at 9:15 AM

What a choice for the SC repubs, vote for a known adulterer or a suspected thief. This country is scraping the bottom of the barrel for leaders.

Kissmygrits on April 2, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Kissmygrits on April 2, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Suspected thief? Says who, besides the adulterer? Bostic is a former U.S. Marine who served in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm, an attorney for 18 years, and also runs two Christian charities. He doesn’t deserve to be slandered.

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2013 at 9:57 AM

I’d vote for Sanford because…have you seen Ms. Argentina 2012? Boy howdy!

Bishop on April 2, 2013 at 9:15 AM

Uh, what? That’s not Sanford’s fiancee. That’s just a woman from the same country as Sanford’s fiancee.

You might as well decide to vote for Barack Obama, because he married a woman from the same country where Kate Upton lives.

J.S.K. on April 2, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Sandford is a Democrat? When you castigate the other guy on financial disclosure forms, you’ve lost it. Those forms are designed to hinder the electoral process, not help it.

unclesmrgol on April 2, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Where have the
been on covering this primary ?

I would bet they have been relatively quiet, leaving Sanford alone for now. That way, if he does manage to win,an outcome they would want, they can shred him then when it really counts- when he has to go up against the Democrite.

Anyone in SC know if Pravda has been staying quietly on the sidelines on this ?

FlaMurph on April 2, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Uh, what? That’s not Sanford’s fiancee. That’s just a woman from the same country as Sanford’s fiancee.

J.S.K. on April 2, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Close enough for government work.

unclesmrgol on April 2, 2013 at 10:49 AM

Generally speaking, social conservatives do not abandon their jobs and family to chase tail in Argentina. Just sayin’

Happy Nomad on April 2, 2013 at 9:13 AM

Hence the guffawing at someone else’s description of Sanford.

Jeddite on April 2, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Sanford will win, for good or bad.

lester and the leftist nazzis will judge, for lots of schadenfreude. The Romans are in charge of morals now.

Bill Clinton will console all, on both sides.

It’s a funny world.

p.s. some suggest that Sanford will go for Kirchner now. Why? His hottie looks like her daughter…or Kirchner looks like a 100 years old, covered in make up, from hair to toes.

Schadenfreude on April 2, 2013 at 1:26 PM

Here is a link to Republican candidate Curtis Bostic’s campaign website, where you can learn more about him:

Today we will find out if South Carolina voters think that Mark Sanford, who betrayed his wife, sons, and the people of South Carolina, really represents their values.

Vote carefully South Carolina, your reputation depends on your decision.

wren on April 2, 2013 at 3:36 PM

if hotair promotes a candidate out of more than mere sympathy, that relationship should be disclosed, no?

sesquipedalian on April 2, 2013 at 4:07 PM

I couldn’t vote for a confirmed liar, over an accused one.

SMACKRUNNER on April 2, 2013 at 7:14 PM