If Democrats can’t beat Mark Sanford, what chance do they have?
Democrats remain confident such a plan of attack is plausible, even after Tuesday’s defeat. The Palmetto State’s 1st Congressional District is far more heavily Republican than most, they argue. (GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney won it by 18 points in 2012.) In fact, 119 House Republicans represent districts that are more Democratic than Sanford’s.
And, as often happens after a loss, Democrats say that Colbert Busch was far from the perfect candidate. Even some Republicans, instead of blaming an unpopular national party, say a Democratic candidate with a more conservative agenda and stronger ability to engage in retail politics would have performed far better than Colbert Busch did. “She was essentially hiding the entire time,” said Guy Harrison, a former NRCC executive director. “You can’t beat something with nothing.”
Republicans have touted the fact that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Majority PAC, and other groups outspent their Republican counterparts by 5-to-1 in the race, money they gleefully suggest was wasted. (DCCC officials counter that the money was raised with the express purpose of running ads against Sanford, so the group didn’t lose any resources that could have been used elsewhere.) But up against an undeniably difficult congressional map, Democrats might not have many better chances. “From our perspective, this was an opportunity that presented itself, and we took it,” said Andy Stone, spokesman for Majority PAC. “If we’re talking about picking up seats, we can’t shy away from red districts.”
The Democratic PAC plans to stay aggressive in red districts, Stone added. The problem is, when his party’s candidates run in such districts, they often hit a wall.