1st District race enters final stretch before Tuesday primary

With less than a week to go, 1st Congressional District candidates are staying busy, seeking to make the right strategic moves that will put them on top in Tuesday’s primary.

They’re also bracing for last-minute attacks, silly and not, that often are made in South Carolina politics.

The campaigns are working to identify their core supporters — those most likely to vote — and encourage them to get to the polls.

Sixteen Republicans and two Democrats are vying against each other in Tuesday’s primary to fill the congressional seat formerly held by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott. The party’s nominees will face off May 7.

Former Charleston County Council Chairman Curtis Bostic, whose campaign is relying heavily on social media, recently asked supporters to pass along names, emails and phone numbers.

“What we have focused on is our ground team,” Bostic said, adding that in a low-turnout election — like Tuesday’s is expected to be — such a get-out-the-vote effort could be key.

Candidates also sought to get word out about last-minute endorsements, such as 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson’s backing of state Rep. Peter McCoy, R-James Island.

And state Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau, was noting national evangelical Christian leader David Barton was backing him.

Grooms’ campaign manager Hogan Gidley said their job not only is to push for success on Tuesday but also to make plans for a possible runoff.

“The sports analogy is to take it one game at a time, but if you’re not planning for the future, you’re dying,” he said. “If you’re not prepared with ad concepts, ad buys and mobilizing ground-troop efforts, you’re way behind. You basically waste an entire week for a runoff if you’re not prepared on Day 1.”

Former Gov. Mark Sanford plans a district-wide tour, visiting several eating spots and small businesses, much like he has been doing, spokesman Joel Sawyer said. State Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Hilton Head Island, has concentrated on his home turf in Beaufort County, having made more than 63 appearances there. In the waning days, he plans to barnstorm the entire district and will emphasize person-to-person contact, not robocalls, said his campaign spokesman Matt Benyon.

Many also are bracing for the kind of nastiness that has given this state a national reputation for bruising politics. The Post and Courier checked the records for all 18 candidates and no arrests were noted, according to a State Law Enforcement Division search.But that didn’t prevent attacks on Charleston teacher Teddy Turner for a 2006 domestic incident. He was accused of causing about $100 in damage to the front door of a Charleston home when he kicked it in after his estranged wife didn’t answer it. He was charged with damage to personal property, according to a police report. Fits News, a political website that bills itself as “unfair, imbalanced,” recently highlighted the incident. Turner, who also has been targeted with fliers and TV ads, said the 2006 incident report was filed during his divorce. The case later was dropped, Turner campaign manager Michael Smith said. Turner said he now understands why more good people don’t run for office but sees a silver lining in the attacks.

“They’re basically concessionary gestures on the parts of several candidates — open acknowledgments that voters don’t want to send certain career politicians ... to represent our district in Congress,” he said.

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