Since Stephen’s big sister Elizabeth Colbert-Busch filed her candidacy papers for South Carolina’s first congressional district primary, there has been a flurry of media buzz focused on the special election race and its ramifications on South Carolina politics. At the same time, mere days after filing papers, the Colbert-Busch campaign has been rapidly gaining momentum, setting up a campaign website, fundraising events, a campaign facebook page, twitter feed (@ColbertBuschSC), and most recently, an endorsement from a former would-be contender, longtime Democrat Bobbie Rose. Let’s delve into the intricacies of what’s ahead in this exciting race. (Photo courtesy campaign facebook page.)
South Carolina’s First Congressional District
[UPDATE: Some of our eagle-eyed Hubsters have pointed out that South Carolina's First was redistricted on June 15, 2011. Our apologies for the error.]
Taking a look at this congressional district, it is clear that although the Colbert name does a great deal to bolster Elizabeth’s stature in what is her first foray into politics, it alone cannot assure the Democratic nomination, nor Elizabeth’s victory for the congressional seat itself. The district, which includes the Colbert’s beloved city of Charleston, is a deep shade of conservative red (deep conservatism not pictured.) [Note: The 2011 redistricting has been believed to bring in more Democratic voters, however, the First voted for Romney over Obama by an 18 point margin, according to Daily Kos.] The stakes are such that the campaign may need to raise as much as a million dollars to be competitive, according to an article by the West Ashley Patch. The SCGOP is certainly poised for the prospects of a Colbert-Busch candidacy, stating to the Patch:
“We look forward to Ms. Colbert-Busch meeting the voters and having to answer questions about where she stands on issues facing the 1st District,” Stroman told Patch. “Since she’s running as a Democrat, voters would love to know where she disagrees with Tim Scott (the former holder of the seat), and if she supports the policies of President Obama. Just a few months ago, voters in the district soundly rejected Obama’s policies. They’ll do the same with Ms. Colbert-Busch.”
Source: West Ashley Patch
Sounds like a charming guy. More importantly, sounds like the talking points of what is sure to be powerful Republican opposition, if she wins the Democratic primary. One can imagine the TV ads and onslaughts and personal attacks to come. It is also worth noting that the Colbert name recognition tied to her famous brother has its drawbacks too. We all giggled when Frank Luntz went to South Carolina to poll South Carolina mom’s reaction to Stephen Colbert there – one of the respondents went so far as to call him a “Charleston dandy,” which, one assumes, is an insult of some South Carolinian sort.
It demonstrates that not all South Carolinians are it-getters, nor may they traditionally embrace with euphoria this candidacy as we all-encompasing supporters of anything Colbert-related may do. The take home message is that red counties and red congressional districts in red states expect that their candidates come prepared to fight for and earn their vote, and take their issues seriously. In light of the GOP’s desire to prevent anymore loss of their constituencies anywhere, the ambition to turn this district blue is, at best, a brave notion. In a conservative district such as this one, which has been Republican-held since 1981, any Dem is going to face an uphill climb, and Ms. Colbert-Busch is no exception.
However, she does have a compelling personal biography, and business chops to boot. If you are interested in her background, check out a truly awesome profile in The Post and Courrier in 2010. According to the article, after enduring the tragedy that claimed the lives her father and two brothers in 1974, she then weathered an 8-year marriage to a man who was profiled on America’s Most Wanted and convicted of securities fraud. Left to raise three young children, she eventually found love and married Claus Busch. She was in close vicinity to the WTC buildings on 9/11 while attending a business meeting, making a harrowing escape on foot from the wreckage.
In the professional realm, she served as Director of Business Development at ocean shipping giant OOCL. Since 2008, she has acted as the Director of Business Development at Clemson University’s Restoration Institute. According to her wikipedia entry, she is a “founder and former member of the Executive Board of Directors of Charleston Women in International Trade, and former member of the College of Charleston’s Business College Alumni Advisory Board. She’s also served as chairwoman of the 2006 S.C. International Trade Conference, the chairwoman of the Maritime Association Port of Charleston and is board member of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce.” That’s an impressive C.V. to be sure.
It can be surmised that someone who has encountered and persevered in the face of so much personal tragedy is well prepared to contend with whatever her Democratic rivals and the SCGOP can dish up. But can she turn the tides and turn the district blue? Only time will tell. In the meantime, we here at the Hub will be watching and cheering from the sidelines. But we too can help – check out the links below.
On Elizabeth’s twitter feed, she shared a little news:
It will be an exciting race, to be sure. Voting for the primary is on March 19th; the general election is May 7th. Stay tuned.
[UPDATE II] Elizabeth has posted a statement on the facebook page explaining her reasons for running for Congress:
“Elizabeth Colbert Busch is running for Congress because she believes that we are in real danger of squandering the tremendous sacrifice and legacy left to us by the Greatest Generation. Elizabeth understands that the extreme partisanship and constant gridlock — rapidly becoming a way-of-life in Washington — does a grave disservice to those who have come before us.
As young men and women they paid a great price enduring endless hardships to ensure our freedom – both personal and financial — as the United States cemented its leadership role in the free world. This is why Elizabeth is determined that the dysfunctional display in the halls of Congress must end.
With extensive experience as a top- flight negotiator and businesswoman at the local, national and international levels, Elizabeth is uniquely positioned to help remedy this crisis.”
[UPDATE III] The campaign released some photos of saturday’s first “Day of Action,” where volunteers gathered in Charleston to help canvass the district. According to the facebook post, 30 volunteers showed up. They look young and eager!
To donate to the campaign, visit the campaign website.
Follow Elizabeth on Twitter.
Don’t forget the campaign Facebook page -there’s a pic you won’t want to miss.