Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford and sister of famous comedian Elizabeth Colbert Busch faced off in a brutal debate Monday night. But with just over a week left before the election, brutal is what it takes. Since this is the only debate between now and vote-time, Sanford and Colbert Busch pulled out all stops.
There weren't actually that many stops to be pulled, though. Mark "The Comeback Kid" Sanford stuck to the issues and did his best to express how his over two decades of experience would go far on Capitol Hill. Results were mixed. It's hard to get the district excited about how you were one of 435 Members of the House of Representatives who helped produce a balanced budget in 1994. It's especially hard to fly that banner when most people remember Sanford as the guy who pretended to hike the Appalachian Trail when he was actually using taxpayer dollars to visit his mistress in Argentina. It's even harder when Sanford's facing charges for repeatedly trespassing on his ex-wife's property.
Colbert Busch was quick to remind Sanford of these things. Stephen Colbert's sister was quick to remind the crowd about that time that Sanford used taxpayer dollars to "leave the country for a personal purpose." When it came to a less gossipy issue like a new bridge that would enable the Port of Charleston to accept larger container ships, Colbert Busch was equally as assertive. "You didn't tell the truth," she said. "You turned around and did the opposite." Colbert Busch also offered to return ten percent of her salary to the federal government if the citizens of South Carolina elected her. However, in a state where the per capital income is $27,915 and the salary for a Representative is nearly $200,000, that gesture might fall a little flat.
It remains to be seen if these are the last fireworks in the race for South Carolina's First congressional district. One thing's for sure: You don't often get a runoff between a disgraced former governor and a celebrity's impressive sister. So savor it while you can, America. You only have, like, ten minutes before midterm election season begins.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.