Filing closed at noon on Monday for the congressional seat left vacant by Sen. Tim Scott, with 19 people officially vying for the First District spot.
16 Republicans and three Democrats filed for the race, making it one of the most crowded House fields in South Carolina history. The primaries will be held on March 19, with a runoff election to be held on April 2 if necessary. The general election will be held on May 7.
Democrat Bobbie Rose, who lost to Scott in November, filed her candidacy last week — but withdrew it at the last minute on Monday morning, citing “an obligation to respond to opportunities in the private sector as well as the political field.” Rose was replaced by perennial candidate Ben Frasier, whom some have accused of being a Republican plant in the race:
Frasier had difficulty explaining his motivation for running and seemed to suggest it wasn’t even his idea. He said “they” told him to run, but did not specify who the “they” was when asked.
Frasier said that “they told me to stand down” when asked why he did not run in Nov. 2012, when the seat was up for grabs. He again declined to identify to whom he was referring.
Frasier declined to elaborate a platform or characterize the ideology of those who said were supporting him, other than to say they lived in South Carolina.
When asked about the possibility that he could be a plant, Frasier said, “That will come out when we hold our first rally.”
Charleston businessman Martin Skelly, another Democratic candidate in the race, echoed that sentiment in his announcement. “We live in the greatest country in the world, but our dysfunctional Congress is standing in the way of our economy,” Skelly said. “The people of South Carolina don’t want to sit back while the chaos in Congress pushes us closer to an economic meltdown – they want a sensible path forward to get our spending under control, achieve energy independence and create good jobs.”
Though Skelly has loaned his campaign $250,000 to prove he can run a competitive race, he’ll face a tough primary battle against Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, the sister of prominent comedian and South Carolina native Stephen Colbert. The Comedy Central satirist has yet to discuss his sister’s entrance into the SC-1 race, but we’re certainly looking forward to his coverage of the campaign.
On the Republican side, former Gov. Mark Sanford has an undeniable fundraising and name-recognition advantage over the rest of the GOP field. However, a recent poll found that more than 50 percent of South Carolinians have an unfavorable opinion of “The Luv Guv.” No surveys have been released that gauge public opinion in the First District alone, but if Sanford’s numbers are anything like they are in the state as a whole, he’ll have a hard time making up the support needed to win the GOP primary.
Other Republican candidates for the First District include state Sen. Larry Grooms; state Reps. Chip Limehouse, Peter McCoy and Andy Patrick; Sullivan’s Island businessman Keith Blandford; and Mount Pleasant teacher Robert “Teddy” Turner IV, the son of television mogul Ted Turner.