First Congressional District hopefuls Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch will not face off next week, and it’s unclear if they will meet face-to-face more than once.
Officials at AARP’s South Carolina state office said they learned Wednesday that Colbert Busch had a conflict and could not attend the April 17 debate, which was going to be aired live on WCBD-TV 2.
James Smith, a spokesman for Colbert Busch, said the campaign had told the AARP earlier that she would be unavailable on that date.
On Thursday, Sanford accused Colbert Busch of doing voters a disservice.
“We have a candidate who is running what some would call a stealth campaign, dodging debates and public appearances,” he said.
Patrick Cobb of AARP said the group was “greatly disappointed” that it didn’t work out, and that it is trying to find an alternate date.
Other organizations are trying to arrange face-to-face meetings between the two, on April 29 and 30, just a week before the May 7 special election.
Sanford and Colbert Busch have committed to a meeting at 7 p.m. on April 29 at The Citadel’s Holliday Alumni Center. That forum, sponsored by Patch and the S.C. Radio Network, could be broadcast on radio.
“Elizabeth looks forward to debating on April 29, and it’s unfortunate that the additional debates didn’t work in her tight schedule,” Smith said. “Fortunately for voters, Mark Sanford’s record is crystal clear on AARP’s issues, and he’s on the wrong side of seniors with his agenda of privatizing Social Security.”
Meanwhile, the Secular Coalition for America graded the 1st District hopefuls and gave Colbert Busch an “A.” Green Party candidate Eugene Platt received a “B,” and Sanford received an “F.”
They were scored on their public answers on these issues: the extent that religion would play in their decision making; their rejection of public funding for religious schools or religiously-based curriculums; and social policies often shaped by religion, such as gay marriage.