Political expert talks differing strategies in race for 1st congressional seat

Political expert talks differing strategies in race for 1st congressional seat (Image 1)

From debating a cardboard cutout to flashing a wad of cash, there have been some interesting campaign tactics in the race for the 1st congressional seat.

Brian McGee is a communications professor at the College of Charleston. Studying the campaigns over the past few weeks, he talks about how both candidates have their strengths and their weaknesses.

Elizabeth Colbert Busch is the political newcomer, introducing herself to voters and stumping the Lowcountry to get her voice out. McGee's advice for Colbert Busch is to get out there often, and make sure she identifies her talking points, and not her opponent. McGee says, “She is certainly trying to define herself and not let Sanford do that for her. Sanford in example is defining Busch as someone who is taking money from outsiders who are not going to be well liked in the Lowcountry, from unions for example, from Nancy Pelosi and from Democrats in the House of Representatives. It is easier to do that to Colbert Busch because people don't know her well.”

Mark Sanford on the other hand has a household name, but the notoriety is not necessarily all good. McGee says the antics of Sanford – everything from debating a cardboard cut-out of Nancy Pelosi, to pulling out a thousand dollars from a bag – could be good or bad. “Anytime a politician engages in what people will perceive as a stunt, that's always a risk,” explains McGee.

And its not the first time Sanford has employed this kind of political tactic. “Many of us who have been in South Carolina for a long time remember when Mr Sanford brought two pigs into the state house named pork and barrel. It was quite a well-known strategy on his part, but it really did offend some people, including some people in his own party.”

But on the flip side, McGee does admit there is a positive to Sanford's shenanigans. “of course for Mr Sanford, changing the conversation away from his personal life is definitely to his advantage.”

Bottom line though is no matter how Sanford and Colbert Busch campaign for the election, their biggest obstacle is not each other, but voters. “We are dealing with people who are politically distracted, who are thinking about spring and graduation and a thousand other things other than politics right now. So they both have to worry about turning out their committed voters, not just helping undecideds swing their way.”

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