FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Misguided Colbert Busch Campaign

by STEVE BREYMAN

The Colbert Busch campaign against Mark Sanford in the First District of South Carolina has to be the least strategic special election of the current season. If you’ve ever given a nickel to a Democratic candidate for Congress, you’ve been bombarded in recent weeks by frantic emails pleading for your spare cash, breathlessly announcing how close the race is, and cynically playing on your fervent desire to “seriously embarrass” John Boehner and Eric Cantor. And if those messages don’t separate you from some ‘disposable’ income, the operatives behind them can’t help but remind you that, yes, Colbert Busch is “Stephen’s sister!”

Mitt Romney won the district by 18 percentage points. The district is “ruby red.” A Republican from the district served in the House for the past 32 years. “Democrats 2014,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, “Left Action,” “House Majority PAC,” and the Colbert Busch campaign itself tell us that we “can’t trust” Mark Sanford, and that he’s “unfit for duty.” Duh. Sadly, Alternet and Mother Jones rented out their email lists for use by the Democrats.

One might think that Boehner and Cantor could find a better candidate than Mark Sanford. The polls as of May 3, nevertheless, have Sanford tied with Colbert Busch at 46%. Sanford’s messiness hasn’t stopped a who’s who of South Carolina and national politicians from endorsing the disgraced real estate developer (including Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, Lindsay Graham, Boehner, Ron Paul, Rand Paul and Larry Flynt). Sanford held the seat from 1995-2001 before serving two terms as South Carolina Governor. While a Congressman, the Cato Institute crowned Sanford the most fiscally conservative member of the House. While In DC, Sanford joined “The Family,” that shadowy fellowship of conservative Christian lawmakers operating out of a townhouse on C Street (and that includes likeminded power players around the world, notably gay-baiting Ugandan President Museveni).

Governor Sanford could not get along with his own Republican-dominated state legislature; it routinely overrode the numerous vetoes. During his second term as governor, Sanford stupidly rejected stimulus funds from Washington with the state unemployment rate at 9.5%; the South Carolina Supreme Court forced him to reverse course and accept the funds (most of which, of course, came from taxpayers in blue states). Sanford’s life spiraled out of control after his bizarre week long disappearance in June 2009.

Sanford told his wife and children, his chief of staff, and his security detail that he’d spend the week hiking the Appalachian Trail. Instead, he jetted off to Argentina to meet his “soul mate,” Argentine former TV reporter María Belén Chapur (now his fianceé). Ambushed by a reporter at the airport upon his return, pressured by both friends and enemies with impeachment proceedings in the state legislature, and an awkward, tearful press conference or two later, Sanford admitted the affair, but did not resign.

Sanford’s wife moved out of the governor’s mansion, and divorced him. A couple months ago, in the midst of his electoral comeback, Jenny Sanford charged him with trespassing at her home for sneaking around without permission, contrary to the divorce decree to watch the Superbowl with one of their sons.

Wouldn’t it be great if Colbert Busch unseated Sanford? No. Why not? Because even if Colbert Busch beats Sanford this time, she’s sure to lose the next election. Remember Scott Brown—who took Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat for a partial term—in Massachusetts. The seat reverted to a Democrat after the national Tea Party wave ebbed, and strong contender Elizabeth Warren appeared. Remember Scott Murphy, the Blue Dog Democrat appointed to Kirsten Gillibrand’s House seat following her appointment to the US Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton. Murphy lost at his earliest opportunity to a just-retired career Army officer, a first-time Republican candidate new to the district. Gillibrand herself only held on to the seat, through one special and one routine election, because her voting record was nearly indistinguishable from that of a Republican.

This is not to suggest that left-liberal Democrats rather than Blue Dogs ought never challenge conservative Republicans in safe seats. Democrats of any hue have structural advantages over third party challengers like Eugene Platt, the Green in the Sanford-Colbert Busch race (who was shut out of the debate and ignored by the media). Long shot challengers can raise neglected issues, educate voters, and attempt to move the discussion leftward. It’s only to say that working folks aren’t represented well by Democrats-In-Name-Only. And that Democratic Party projects like the Colbert Busch campaign are a waste of scarce resources.

The ONLY reason Republicans control the House is because their brethren back home, state legislators and governors, conspire to draw district lines that favor the GOP. Had they any strategic sense, any concern for the long-run, the various Democratic outfits hawking Colbert Busch would concentrate their/your money, time, and grassroots organizing on fighting the right-wing procedural and financial sliminess that constitutes Republican campaigns today. What are the Dems doing at this very moment to stop the well-funded Republican efforts to institute voter ID requirements, carve up the Electoral College to insure victory, protect Citizens United, forestall public financing of campaigns, and solidify winner-take-all gerrymandering across the country? Not all that much except to ask adherents to sign petitions.

Steve Breyman served as campaign treasurer for a Green Party candidate in a New York State Senate contest, and as speechwriter for a New York Green Party gubernatorial candidate. While a Common Cause/New York Board member he testified before the New York State Assembly on behalf of a nonpartisan process to draw electoral district lines, and worked for public financing of campaigns. Reach him at breyms@rpi.edu

 

 

Steve Breyman was a William C. Foster Visiting Scholar Fellow in the Clinton State Department, and serves as an advisor to Jill Stein, candidate for the Green Party presidential nomination. Reach him at breyms@rpi.edu

More articles by:
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
Binoy Kampmark
Headaches of Empire: Brexit’s Effect on the United States
Dave Lindorff
Honest Election System Needed to Defeat Ruling Elite
Louisa Willcox
Delisting Grizzly Bears to Save the Endangered Species Act?
Jason Holland
The Tragedy of Nothing
Jeffrey St. Clair
Revolution Reconsidered, Guest Starring Bernard Sanders in the Role of Robespierre
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail