Armageddon in South Carolina

When Jim DeMint resigned from the Senate to lead the Heritage Foundation, Governor Nikki Haley appointed Tim Scott to fill the remainder of DeMint’s term. That opened up Scott’s House seat, and a special election to fill it is in progress. We and many others were disappointed when former governor Mark Sanford won the Republican primary. He is now running against Elizabeth Colbert Busch, whose principal claim to fame is that the is the sister of comedian and Democratic Party activist Stephen Colbert.

The special election will take place on Tuesday. It has been a strange race. Sanford has never gotten on well with South Carolina’s Republican Party, and South Carolina Republicans were slow to come to his support after he won the primary. Still, Republicans couldn’t stand the thought of losing a district that Mitt Romney carried by 18 points, and they have slowly come around to supporting Sanford.

Democrats, meanwhile, went into a fundraising frenzy in support of Ms. Busch. Those on the Democrats’ email lists (like me) have been getting pleas for money on Busch’s behalf approximately every 48 hours for some weeks or months. The Democrats’ hysteria about the race has paid off; The Hill reports that as of April 25, “Colbert Busch had raised $880,000 to Sanford’s $450,000.”

But Sanford’s undeniable populist appeal–while there are obvious differences, he could be described as a South Carolina version of Mike Huckabee–has never depended on money, and he has managed to pull even in the polls. Which has prompted a new outbreak of hysteria on the part of the Democratic Party. Here is their latest fundraising appeal, with multiple links to donation pages omitted:

From: Democrats 2014
Date: May 5, 2013, 9:47:09 AM MDT
To: Hinderaker, John H.
Subject: This is URGENT:

John — It’s infuriating:

You can’t turn on a TV in South Carolina without seeing an ad bashing Elizabeth Colbert Busch. And here’s the worst part: the Republicans’ baseless attacks are working.

This race has tightened to a dead heat, 46%-46%.

The election is in 2 days. If we want to win, we have to double-down on our voter contact program immediately.

Suggested Support: $3.00

This is urgent: Donate $3 to help us fight Republican attacks in too-close-to-call races like this one >>

Our latest projections show that this race could come down to less [sic] than 300 votes. We don’t want to look back on Tuesday night and wish we’d done more when we had the chance.

Chip in $3 or more right now to fight Republican attacks nationwide — while your donation can still make the difference:

Thanks for your support,

Democrats 2014

As always, the Democrats refer to no public policy issues and make no substantive arguments in support of Ms. Busch. It is all about being part of the team that defeats those horrible Republicans, who–unlike the Democrats, presumably–are so nefarious as to launch “attacks.”

I pretend to no special insight into South Carolina politics, but it sounds like the race may be slipping away from the Democrats. South Carolina’s First Congressional District is heavily Republican, and I suspect that a great many Republicans will turn out for Sanford, some enthusiastically and some, figuratively speaking, holding their noses. Ms. Busch’s enormous money advantage might allow her to pull out the race, but her utter lack of qualifications should be a drag on her candidacy. If she were a comedian herself, as opposed to being merely the sister of a comedian, she might have a better shot. Just ask Al Franken.

What is happening in South Carolina is a precursor of things to come. The Democrats are determined to catch the Republicans napping (or disunited over immigration) and win back the House next year. South Carolina’s special election should be taken as a sign that the Democrats will not concede a single seat, anywhere, in their quest to obtain complete dominance over the federal government.