South Carolina’s crazy world of politics just got another dose of name recognition. Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, TV satirist Stephen Colbert’s older sister, will run as a Democrat in the special election to fill the 1st District congressional seat that represents the Lowcountry coast.
The 58-year-old business development director at Clemson’s Charleston wind-turbine facility brings another big name to a race that already has big names. Former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford and Ted Turner’s son, Teddy, are seeking the Republican nomination.
“She does have a famous brother, but she has a great story to tell,” said Bill Romjue, Colbert-Busch’s campaign manager. “She’s a very successful woman.”
Don’t necessarily expect a huge money push from her brother, the host of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” and one-time candidate for the president of the United States of South Carolina. (It was a joke.)
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Like everyone else, Stephen Colbert is limited to $2,500 in individual contributions by federal election law, Romjue said. And Colbert shut down his Super PAC – Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow – at the end of last year, giving away nearly $800,000 that it had raised to charities and election-reform groups.
“I think he’ll help, but she has quite a network in the Charleston area,” Romjue said.
Colbert-Busch will file in the GOP-leaning district next week. Three candidates – Turner, Republican Elizabeth Moffly and Democrat Martin Skelly – signed up to run Friday, the first day of filing for the special election. The primary is March 19. The election is May 7.
Others who have said they plan to join the race include state Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley, and state Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston. Thomas Ravenel, the Charleston Republican who resigned as state treasurer in 2007 and entered a guilty plea to a drug charge, said he is not running.
Colbert-Busch weighed a Democratic bid for Congress in 2010 but decided not to run when Tim Scott, a popular African-American Republican legislator who had been Charleston County Commission chairman, entered the race.
Scott was appointed last month by Gov. Nikki Haley to the U.S. Senate seat that opened after Jim DeMint resigned to lead the Heritage Foundation think tank.
Colbert-Busch voted in GOP primaries in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2010, according to the S.C. Election Commission. She is not listed as voting in a Democratic primary since 2000.
State Democratic leaders said it not uncommon for Democrats to vote in GOP primaries in heavily Republican areas. In some of those areas, Democrats do not offer candidates or have contested primaries. Colbert-Busch lives in Mount Pleasant, which voted 2-to-1 for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney in November.