By Paul Gable
Republican Mark Sanford will be returning to Washington to again represent the citizens of the South Carolina 1st Congressional District after a nearly 12 ½ year break.
Sanford easily defeated Democratic opponent Elizabeth Colbert Busch in a special election to fill the seat after former representative Tim Scott was elevated to the Senate earlier this year when Jim DeMint resigned to head up the Heritage Foundation.
Despite turning off some voters with his 2009 antics of disappearing for several days to visit his Argentinian mistress while serving as governor of South Carolina, Sanford was never really in danger of losing this election.
Grand Strand Daily and SC Hotline predicted over a month ago a Sanford victory in the vicinity of 8-10 percentage points despite all the media hoopla about Colbert Busch holding a double digit lead at the time and the candidates being deadlocked as the polls opened.
The voters were never deadlocked over these two candidates.
Colbert Busch did about everything right in her campaign. The Democratic Party sank a lot of money into media ads for her. She at least held her own in the campaign’s one face-to-face debate between the two candidates.
Yet, Sanford won rather convincingly and that is all that needs to be said about our current election process. Put an “R” behind his name in South Carolina and Disney’s “Goofy” would be elected to office. I would argue in several cases that has already happened.
In other areas of the country, a “D” guarantees victory. Approximately 5% of the Congressional districts in the nation can truly be considered competitive. The remaining 95% are safe seats for one or the other of the two main parties.
The polarization and gridlock in Washington are not going to change until voters make the safe districts unsafe for incumbents who act as automatons for the few who control the political agendas of the Republican and Democratic parties.
That’s not to say that Sanford should not have won. He has always been something of a lone wolf and he has never lost an election. But, in a truly democratic process, his victory should not have been a foregone conclusion before the votes were cast.