Given the beating the GOP took in the last election, you’d think the party would have learned a few things, namely that running damaged candidates for Congress doesn’t usually work out so well (looking at you, Todd Aiken). However, the lesson doesn’t appear to have sunk in and, South Carolina Republicans appear ready to nominate someone (to fill Tim Scott’s old seat) with so much baggage that he gets nailed with those excess luggage fees every time he hops on a plane down to Argentina. I am, of course, referring to disgraced former governor, Mark Sanford, whose most distinguishing act in office was inspiring a state-wide game of Where’s Waldo for a week while he engaged in some foreign relations in Argentina. The only redeeming feature of a Sanford candidacy is that he’s already on-board with the GOP’s new Hispanic outreach plan, that is if the GOP’s idea of outreach is abandoning your wife and children to go have a sexual romp on the other side of the world.
However, despite Sanford’s questionable moral and ethical choices, he appears ready to coast to an easy primary victory. For reference, in November 2012, Tim Scott won his election with 62% of the vote. Recent polling suggests that Sanford will defeat Curtis Bostic in the April 2 primary 53-40. However, in a hypothetical match-up, Sanford is currently losing to the Democrat’s nominee, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch (yes, that Colbert) 47-45, while Bostic ties Colbert 43-43. Meanwhile 58% of the district’s voters have an unfavorable view of Sanford. So, in much the same way that the GOP nominated perhaps the only candidate who could lose to Barack Obama (i.e. Romney), they appear ready to nominate the only candidate who could quite possibly lose a solidly red district in solidly red South Carolina. Why? Because the same base voters (Evangelicals and other Social Conservatives) who are currently fueling Bostic’s campaign will simply stay home on Election Day if Sanford wins, the same factor (if you’ll recall) that cost ol’ Mittens the election. Their options will be between a typical, toe-the-line Democrat and a (possibly insane) scandal-plagued former governor who cheated on his wife. So, they’ll just opt to sit this one out. And you can hardly blame them.
I think what’s really amusing about this whole situation is that the Democrats don’t really have to do anything to win elections anymore. They just have to wait for the Republicans to nominate the least inspiring candidates they can find, and otherwise unwinnable elections for the Democrats suddenly become wide-open. There are a lot of Republicans in South Carolina. Is Mark Sanford really the best person the party can put forward? Forget all this minority outreach baloney. The party needs its base to turnout in order to win elections. And the longer the GOP thumbs its nose at the base by nominating buffons like Mark Sanford for Congress, the faster it will slide into irrelevance.