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

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The 1st Congressional District of South Carolina held a special election for the U.S. House of Representatives on May 7, 2013, which Mark Sanford won. The election was held to fill the vacancy left by the appointment of Representative Tim Scott (R) to the United States Senate. South Carolina law dictated that a primary election to fill a vacancy to the U.S. House must be held on the 11th Tuesday after the vacancy occurs, with the general election being held 18 weeks after the vacancy.[1] The period of time to file to run for office was January 18 to January 28. The primary was held on March 19, with a runoff on April 2 and general election on May 7, 2013.[2]

South Carolina has an open primary system, in which any registered voter can choose which party's primary to vote in, without having to be a member of that party.

Candidate Filing Deadline Primary Election General Election
January 28, 2013
March 19, 2013
May 7, 2013


General election

Democratic Party Elizabeth Colbert-Busch[3]
Republican Party Mark Sanford[4][5]Approveda
Green Party Eugene Platt[6]

Democratic Party Democratic primary

Republican Party Republican primary

Republican Party April 2 Republican runoff

Note: No candidate won the required majority of votes in the primary election. The top two candidates ran against each other for the nomination in the April 2 runoff primary.[14][15]
Note: The narrow margin between second and third place winners Curtis Bostic and Larry Grooms necessitated an automatic recount. Once the recount was completed, Curtis Bostic advanced to the runoff primary.[17] Grooms indicated on March 20 that he would no longer be in the running for the seat. The automatic recount will still determine a winner, but since Grooms suspended his campaign Bostic will run against Sanford in the runoff primary.[18][19]

Green Party Green Party nominee

Withdrew from race

Democratic Party Martin Skelly, runs UFG Asset Management investment group, first time political candidate[8][21]

Rumored but did not file

Republican Party Tom Davis, state Senator[1][22]
Republican Party Jenny Sanford, former first lady of South Carolina[1][11][12][23]
Republican Party Larry Kobrovsky, Charleston County School Board member[11]
Republican Party James Merrill, state representative[1]
Republican Party Elliot Summey, Charleston County Councilman[11][12]
Republican Party Paul Thurmond, state Senator[1][11][12]
Democratic Party Bobbie Rose, candidate for the 1st Congressional District in the 2012 general election[24]

Election results

General election

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"

Primary Elections

Democratic Primary

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[3]

Republican Primary

U.S. House, South Carolina District 1 Special Republican Primary, 2013
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngMark Sanford 36.9% 19,854
Green check mark transparent.pngCurtis Bostic 13.3% 7,168
Ric Bryant 0.2% 87
Larry Grooms 12.4% 6,673
Jonathan Hoffman 0.7% 360
Jeff King 0.4% 211
John Kuhn 6.5% 3,479
Tim Larkin 0.7% 393
Harry "Chip" Limehouse 6.1% 3,279
Peter McCoy 1.6% 867
Elizabeth Moffly 1% 530
Ray Nash 4.7% 2,508
Andy Patrick 7% 3,783
Shawn Pinkston 0.3% 154
Keith Blandford 0.4% 195
Teddy Turner 7.9% 4,252
Total Votes 53,793
Source: Official results via South Carolina State Election Commission[3]

Republican Runoff

U.S. House, South Carolina District 1 Special Runoff Republican Primary, 2013
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngMark Sanford 56.6% 26,127
Curtis Bostic 43.4% 20,044
Total Votes 46,171
Source: Official results via South Carolina State Election Commission[25]

Scott was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Gov. Nikki Haley (R) to replace Jim DeMint (R). DeMint decided to resign and head the conservative Heritage Foundation beginning in January 2013.[26]

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. This was also his former seat in the U.S. House of Representatives that he held for three terms, prior to being elected governor.[27]

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.[28][29] The last Democratic candidate elected was Mendel Jackson Davis in 1978.[30]

The race was included on a Washington Post list of the Top 5 races of 2013.[31]

Runoff election history

In a historical look at the last 11 runoff primary elections in South Carolina since 1998, the Washington Post found that only 7 out of the 11 elections, or approximately 64% of the time, the top winner in the primary also won the runoff election.[1] Sanford's first House election in 1994 was one instance of a second place primary winner coming from behind to win the nomination in the runoff election.[1]

Sanford debates Pelosi cutout

On April 24 2013, Republican nominee Mark Sanford stood alongside a life-sized photo of Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi at the Medical University of South Carolina, what would have been the site of the first debate between himself and his opponent, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch.[32]

Colbert-Busch did not agree to participate in the debate, citing a tight schedule.[32] The two appeared in one debate on April 29, 2013, in Charleston.[32]

In a statement, Sanford stated, "My opponent continues to run a stealth campaign, avoiding public appearances and refusing to commit to televised forums for the benefit of 1st District voters. Since Elizabeth Colbert-Busch refuses to articulate her views publicly, we are left to draw inferences for what she stands for on the basis of the groups that have made substantial monetary investments on her behalf."[32]

Colbert-Busch's campaign responded the same day replying: "While Mark Sanford continues his desperate campaign to deceive voters, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch is spending her time with real people who support her campaign - today alone, she's meeting with a group of Republicans for Elizabeth Colbert Busch and a rally at Burke High School. She doesn't have to resort to phony cardboard cutouts to talk with the people of South Carolina."[32]

Sanford published list

Following complaints from Sanford about negative ads being run by Democrats, he made an offer saying, "The Democrats' ads will tell you none of this, so if you have further questions, go to, call me at the campaign office at 843-764-9188, or even on my cell at 843-367-1010."[33]

In response to the offer, one of the groups whose ads Sanford complained about, the House Majority PAC, decided to take him up on it and in a post-script to a fundraising email reprinted Sanford's cell phone number and suggested that their supporters "[g]ive him a call and ask why he spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on luxury travel."[33]

In response to a number of phone calls received, Sanford published a list of the phone numbers of the people who called him on his campaign website.[34][35] Most of the numbers were from individuals outside of the state.[33]

According to a poll released March 26, 2013, by Public Policy Polling, Colbert-Busch and Mark Sanford were neck and neck prior to the runoff primary election.[36] President of Public Policy Polling, Dean Debnam, described the race saying, “The South Carolina special looks like a toss up. The big question is how much Republicans will unify around their nominee after the runoff next week.”[36]

Following the runoff primary and heading into the general election, President of Public Policy Polling, Dean Debnam stated, “Elizabeth Colbert Busch is now looking like a clear favorite in the special election. The only question is whether an extremely unpopular Sanford can find some way to make voters like her even less than him in the next two weeks.”[37]

South Carolina's 1st Congressional District special election
Poll Elizabeth Colbert-Busch Mark SanfordEugene PlattMargin of ErrorSample Size
May 6, 2013
Public Policy Polling
April 19-21, 2013
Public Policy Polling
March 22-24, 2013
AVERAGES 47.67% 44% 3.33% +/-3.8 873.67
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to


Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford raised $334,397 over January and February in his bid for the South Carolina House seat.[38] David Koch, who launched the conservative outside group Americans for Prosperity, gave $2,500 to Sanford’s House campaign. So did Foster Friess, a major back of Rick Santorum’s presidential campaign.[38] In addition to some leftover primary cash from his 1998 House run, Sanford had approximately $364,714 on hand going into August 2014.[38]

Reports circulated in early March that Sanford asked his ex-wife Jenny, even though they have barely spoken since their divorce, to run his congressional campaign.[39] Jenny Sanford ran all of his campaigns while they were married, starting with his first 1994 bid for Congress.[39] Sanford has yet to comment on the accuracy of these reports, but did acknowledge his ex-wife, stating “She was a vital part of every one of my campaigns and did an extraordinary job and therefore is missed.”[39]

General election

Elizabeth Colbert-Busch

  • 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."[40]
  • The AFL-CIO endorsed her on February 14, 2013, stating "“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."[41]
  • U.S. Representative James Clyburn endorsed her on February 19, 2013, citing "something unique about Elizabeth’s experiences…She has life experiences to take us to success in the general election."[42]
  • Following the GOP runoff primary on April 2, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand threw her support behind Colbert-Busch, which included the support of her PAC Off the Sidelines.[43] 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."[43]

Mark Sanford

  • On April 25, 2013, Ron Paul endorsed Sanford for the 1st District seat. In a fundraising appeal, Paul stated, “Mark Sanford has always been a strong ally of the Liberty Movement. Help him get to Congress. Donate today!”[44]
  • A week prior to the general election, on April 30, 2013, Rand Paul announced his endorsement of Sanford.[45] In a statement released by Sanford's campaign, Paul stated, "More than anything, Washington needs strong and consistent voices for fiscal responsibility and liberty. Mark has proven during his time in office that watching out for taxpayers and holding the line on spending are his top priorities...What we absolutely cannot afford is someone like his opponent, who will be yet another vote for a return to the Pelosi speakership, for disastrous programs like Obamacare, and for more spending and debt."[45] The endorsement comes as a move that could help Sanford regain his footing in the race and improve Paul's standing in the early-voting presidential state.[45]
  • Also on May 1st, former Rep. Tim Scott endorsed Mark Sanford for his former seat. Until January, Scott represented the 1st District giving his endorsement extra significance.[49] The popular conservative was appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley to finish out Jim DeMint’s Senate term.[49] In the endorsement Scott stated, "On all the most important issues facing our state and country, from dealing with our dangerous levels of debt, to repealing or resisting the government health-care takeover, to standing up for Charleston jobs against the NLRB, 1st District voters have a stark choice. Mark Sanford is hands down better on all of those issues, and that’s why I believe he merits support.”[50]
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On November 6, 2012, Tim Scott (R) won re-election to the United States House. He defeated Bobbie Rose and Keith Blandford in the general election.

U.S. House, South Carolina District 1 General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Bobbie Rose 35.7% 103,557
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngTimothy Scott Incumbent 62% 179,908
     Libertarian Keith Blandford 2.2% 6,334
     N/A Write-In 0.1% 214
Total Votes 290,013
Source: South Carolina State Election Commission "Official Election Results, 2012 General Election"


On November 2, 2010, Scott won election to the United States House of Representatives. He defeated Ben Frasier, Robert Dobbs, Rob Groce, Keith Blandford, and Jimmy Wood in the general election.[51]

U.S. House of Representatives, South Carolina Congressional District 1 Election, 2010
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngTim Scott 65.7% 152,755
     Democratic Ben Frasier 28.8% 67,008
     Working Families Rob Groce 1.8% 4,148
     Green Robert Dobbs 1.4% 3,369
     Libertarian Keith Blandford 1.2% 2,750
     Independence Jimmy Wood 1.1% 2,489
Total Votes 232,519

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Washington Post, "Scott's departure for Senate will trigger third special House election in 2013," December 17, 2012
  2. South Carolina Republican Party Website, "1st Congressional Special Election details set," accessed January 3, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 SC Votes, "March 19 Special Primary Election" accessed March 19, 2013
  4. Politico, "South Carolina Runoff" accessed April 2, 2013
  5. Huffington Post, "South Carolina Election Results 2013" accessed May 7, 2013
  6. Post and Courrier, "Former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum backs Curtis Bostic" accessed March 27, 2013
  7. Politico, "No joke: Stephen Colbert’s sister plans House bid," January 18, 2013
  8. 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 South Carolina Radio Network "List of 19 candidates running for District 1 seat," January 28, 2013 (dead link)
  9. CBS Charlotte, "Former Gov. Sanford Could Face Ex-Wife For Open House Seat," December 20, 2012
  10. Mount Pleasant Patch, "Hanahan's Ric Bryant Enters SC1 GOP Fray," January 28, 2013 (dead link)
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 Post and Courier, "If Haley picks Scott to take DeMint's place, expect wide-open race," December 8, 2012
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 National Journal, "Scott Appointment Will Shape Two S.C. Special Elections," December 17, 2012
  13. CNN "FIRST ON CNN: Mark Sanford plans to run for Congress," December 20, 2012
  14. Politico, "Mark Sanford advances to runoff" accessed March 19, 2013
  15. South Carolina Republican Party Website, "1st Congressional Special Election details set," accessed January 3, 2013
  16. Politico, "South Carolina Runoff" accessed April 2, 2013
  17. ABC News, "Sanford Advances in SC Race, Colbert's Sister Wins" accessed March 20, 2013
  18. Politico, "Larry Grooms drops out of South Carolina House race" accessed March 25, 2013
  19. Washington Post, "Grooms bows out in South Carolina" accessed March 22, 2013
  20. Green Party Watch, "South Carolina Greens Nominate Eugene Platt in 1st Congressional District special election" accessed March 11, 2013
  21. Roll Call, "South Carolina: Skelly Exits Special Election; Colbert’s Sister Now Top Democratic Contender," February 11, 2013
  22. Island Packet, "Patrick, Lotz mulling run for Scott's U.S. House seat," December 17, 2012
  23., "Jenny Sanford not running for Congress," January 14, 2013
  24. Summerville Patch, "Bobbie Rose to Seek Congressional Seat," January 13, 2013
  25. SC Votes, "April 2 Republican Runoff Primary Election," accessed April 30, 2013
  26. The Washington Post, "Gov. Nikki Haley to fill DeMint’s seat by appointment," December 6, 2012
  27. Roll Call, "Sanford Likely Front-Runner in S.C. Special Election," January 3, 2013
  28. MSNBC "Elizabeth Colbert Busch wedged in crowded special election race" accessed March 17, 2013
  29., "Ted Turner’s son vying in SC congressional primary," January 23, 2013
  30. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, "Davis, Medel Jackson, (1942-2007)," accessed January 28, 2013
  31. Washingotn Post, "The Fix's Top 5 Races of 2013" accessed March 18, 2013
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 32.4 Island Packet, "Sanford Debates Pelosi Cutout" accessed April 25, 2013
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 Daily Kos, "Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest: Sanford publishes phone numbers of ordinary folks who called him" accessed April 26, 2013
  34. Daily Kos, "Mark Sanford Phone Number Email" accessed April 26, 2013
  35., "Mark Sanford Releases the Phone Numbers of People Who Called Him After He Gave Out His Number" accessed April 26, 2013
  36. 36.0 36.1 Public Policy Polling, "PPP release SC 3/26" accessed March 27, 2013
  37. Public Policy Polling, "PPP Press Release South Carolina Special Election 4/22" accessed April 25, 2013
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 Washington Post, "Koch brother donates to Mark Sanford" accessed March 11, 2013
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 Washington Post, "Mark Sanford asked ex-wife Jenny Sanford to run his latest campaign" accessed March 11, 2013
  40. Roll Call, "South Carolina: Skelly Exits Special Election; Colbert’s Sister Now Top Democratic Contender," February 11, 2013
  41. "," North Charleston Patch, February 13, 2013 (dead link)
  42. Congressman James Clyburn Endorses Elizabeth Colbert Busch, The Charleston Chronicle, February 19, 2013
  43. 43.0 43.1 Daily Kos, "Let's Send Elizabeth Colbert Busch to Congress" accessed April 4, 2013
  44. Washington Post, "Ron Paul Endorses Mark Sanford" accessed April 26, 2013
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 The Hill, "Rand Paul endorses Mark Sanford" accessed April 30, 2013
  46. Washington Post, "Nikki Haley to appear at Mark Sanford fundraiser" accessed April 30, 2013
  47. Island Packet, "Sanford, Haley speak on phone following his win in GOP runoff" accessed April 30, 2013
  48. Post and Courier, "Tim Scott says Mark Sanford “merits support” in 1st District race" accessed May 2, 2013
  49. 49.0 49.1 Washington Post, "Tim Scott Endorses Mark Sanford" accessed May 2, 2013
  50. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named endorsemp
  51. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010," accessed March 28, 2013