Elizabeth Colbert-Busch

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Elizabeth Colbert-Busch
Elizabeth colbert busch.jpg
Candidate for
U.S. House, South Carolina, District 1
Bachelor'sCollege of Charleston
ProfessionSales and Marketing Professional
Campaign website
Elizabeth Colbert-Busch was the 2013 Democratic nominee seeking election to the U.S. House representing the 1st Congressional District of South Carolina.[1][2]

Colbert-Busch is the older sister of The Colbert Report host, Stephen Colbert.[3]

She was defeated by former Gov. Mark Sanford (R) in the election for the open seat. The special election was held to fill the seat left empty following the appointment of Tim Scott to the U.S. Senate.[4][5] Colbert-Busch easily defeated challenger Ben Frasier in the Democratic special primary election on March 19, 2013.[6] She was defeated in the general election.[7]

The general election race was expected to be tough for any Democrat. The Charleston-area seat has been a Republican stronghold for decades, and continues to lean Republican.[8][9] The last Democratic candidate elected was Mendel Jackson Davis in 1978.[10]

Early indicators suggested the race between Colbert-Busch and Sanford would be competitive.[11][12] Many believed that Sanford's forces would have had a hard time overwhelming Colbert-Busch in the competition for dollars, as her brother, Stephen Colbert, went all out to raise cash for his older sister.[13]

In early April 2013 Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and her PAC Off the Sidelines, endorsed Colbert-Busch for the May 7 general special election.[14]

The race was included in a Washington Post list of the Top 5 races of 2013.[15]


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Cobert-Busch comes from a large family and is the sister of The Colbert Report host, Stephen Colbert. She serves as the director of business development at Clemson University Restoration Institute.[16][17] Prior to this, she was director of sales and marketing for the Orient Overseas Container Line.[1][3][18]


  • Bachelor's degree, College of Charleson[3]


Political positions

Colbert-Busch's primary interest for South Carolina is business development and jobs creation, as reflected in her current work at Clemson University.[19] In response to a question tweeted to her in early April 2013, she responded as being both pro-choice and in favor of marriage equality.[20]



See also: South Carolina's 1st Congressional District special election, 2013

Colbert-Busch ran for the U.S. House representing the 1st Congressional District of South Carolina. The election was held to replace Tim Scott, who was appointed to fill Jim DeMint's vacant seat in the U.S. Senate.[21] Colbert-Busch ran in the Democratic primary and defeated Ben Frasier on March 19, 2013.[6][2] Martin Skelly originally filed to run but withdrew in early February.[22][23] Colbert-Busch was defeated by Republican nominee and former congressman Mark Sanford in the general election on May 7, 2013.[24]

Former Governor Mark Sanford was seen as the front runner due to name recognition and the fact that he had $120,000 in an old campaign account. This coupled with his ability to fundraise quickly gave him a leg up on the field. The seat was also his former seat in the U.S. House of Representatives that he held for three terms, prior to being elected governor.[25]

The district leans Republican.[26] The last Democratic candidate elected was Mendel Jackson Davis in 1978.[27]

U.S. House, South Carolina District 1 Special Democratic Primary, 2013
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngElizabeth Colbert-Busch 95.9% 15,802
Ben Frasier 4.1% 682
Total Votes 16,484
Source: Official results via South Carolina State Election Commission[6]
U.S. House, South Carolina District 1 General Special Election, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngMark Sanford 54% 77,600
     Democratic Elizabeth Colbert-Busch 45.2% 64,961
     Green Eugene Platt 0.5% 690
     N/A Write-in 0.3% 384
Total Votes 143,635
Source: South Carolina Election Board, "Official Special Election Results"


  • After Martin Skelly withdrew from the race, he threw his support behind Colbert-Busch, saying "she inspires both the party faithful and the political center that we need to generate consensus and end gridlock in Congress."[28]
  • The AFL-CIO endorsed her on February 14, 2013, and said "Elizabeth’s business experience with the maritime industry and Clemson University helps her understand that when labor and management work together everyone wins." Charleston Mayor Joe Riley endorsed her the same day, describing her as a “tireless worker, a self-made woman in a field where there were few women."[29]
  • U.S. Representative James Clyburn endorsed her on February 19, 2013. In the endorsement he said there was "something unique about Elizabeth’s experiences…She has life experiences to take us to success in the general election."[30]
  • Following the GOP runoff primary on April 2, 2013, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand threw her support behind Colbert-Busch, which included the support of her PAC Off the Sidelines.[14] In a statement announcing the endorsement Gillibrand said, "Elizabeth has been off the sidelines and involved in her community for years, having founded the Executive Board of Directors of Charleston Women in International Trade as well as serving as Chair of the Maritime Association Port of Charleston, among other positions. I'm thrilled that this year, Elizabeth has decided to add Congressional candidate to her list of achievements, and with your help, we'll be sending her to Washington, D.C. very soon."[14]

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  1. 1.0 1.1 Politico, "No joke: Stephen Colbert’s sister plans House bid," January 18, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 South Carolina Radio Network, "List of 19 candidates running for District 1 seat," January 28, 2013 (dead link)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 West Ashley Patch, "A Closer Look at Elizabeth Colbert-Busch," January 18, 2013
  4. The Republic, "Sanford's hopes of a political comeback rest with voters this week" accessed March 17, 2013
  5. The Washington Post, "Gov. Nikki Haley to fill DeMint’s seat by appointment," December 6, 2012
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 SC Votes, "March 19 Special Primary Election" accessed March 19, 2013
  7. Huffington Post, "South Carolina Election Results 2013" accessed May 7, 2013
  8. MSNBC "Elizabeth Colbert Busch wedged in crowded special election race" accessed March 17, 2013
  9. Salon.com, "Ted Turner’s son vying in SC congressional primary," January 23, 2013
  10. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, "Davis, Medel Jackson, (1942-2007)," accessed January 28, 2013
  11. Politico, "Mark Sanford advances to runoff" accessed April 19, 2013
  12. Washington Post, "Mark Sanford wins Republican runoff in South Carolina" accessed April 2, 2013
  13. Politico, "GOP frets Mark Sanford could blow it" accessed April 4, 2013
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Daily Kos, "Let's Send Elizabeth Colbert Busch to Congress" accessed April 4, 2013
  15. Washingotn Post, "The Fix's Top 5 Races of 2013" accessed March 18, 2013
  16. Clemson University Restoration Institute
  17. [http://www.clemson.edu/media-relations/article.php?article_id=4128 "Offshore wind industry has huge potential for Southeast, Clemson official tells conference," Clemson University, March 8, 2012
  18. MSNBC "Elizabeth Colbert Busch Wedged in Crowded Special Election Race" accessed March 17, 2013
  19. "Southeast wind-energy conference to feature Clemson’s Restoration Institute," Clemson University, March 1, 2012
  20. Twitter, "Elizabeth Colbert-Busch" accessed April 4, 2013
  21. Washington Post, "Scott's departure for Senate will trigger third special House election in 2013," December 17, 2012
  22. Roll Call, "South Carolina Skelly exits Special Election" accessed March 11, 2013
  23. South Carolina Republican Party Website, "1st Congressional Special Election details set," accessed January 3, 2013
  24. Huffington Post, "South Carolina Election Results 2013" accessed May 7, 2013
  25. Roll Call, "Sanford Likely Front-Runner in S.C. Special Election," January 3, 2013
  26. Salon.com, "Ted Turner’s son vying in SC congressional primary," January 23, 2013
  27. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, "Davis, Medel Jackson, (1942-2007)," accessed January 28, 2013
  28. Roll Call, "South Carolina: Skelly Exits Special Election; Colbert’s Sister Now Top Democratic Contender," February 11, 2013
  29. North Charleston Patch, "Colbert Busch Receives Two Key Endorsements in SC1 Race," February 13, 2013 (dead link)
  30. Congressman James Clyburn Endorses Elizabeth Colbert Busch, The Charleston Chronicle, February 19, 2013