The race for Tim Scott’s former congressional seat finally turned to issues Monday, as Republican Mark Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch met for the first — and probably only — time.
In 75 feisty minutes, the two 1st District hopefuls sparred over federal spending, health care, education, gun control, each other’s backgrounds and each other’s supporters.
Colbert Busch criticized Sanford for not voting to fund the port or the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge when he last served in Congress — and criticized him for leaving the state in 2009, though her remarks created a roar in the 500-person hall, making it was impossible to hear all of what she said.
Sanford asked if Colbert Busch thought he was not a good congressman, why did she give him $500 when he later ran for governor. He said her criticism of those votes — which he said was rooted in what part of the budget the money was coming from — was political, adding, “I get that it bothers her now.”
Mostly, Sanford linked her with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, whose name he mentioned about 10 times, and with other leading Democrats who helped raise money for her.
“It really does matter how we fund our campaigns,” he said. “What it says is whose voice you will carry in Washington.”
Their encounter at The Citadel’s Holliday Alumni Center marked the most substantive moment to date in a campaign that has featured Sanford’s complaints about too few debates and attempts to link Colbert Busch with Pelosi.
Colbert Busch has held several public events, mostly emphasizing her themes of creating new jobs and pushing for equal pay for women and men, though she has offered relatively few details.
She served up more details Monday, including a new pledge to return 10 percent of her congressional salary to taxpayers. She also questioned why the federal government spends $150 billion on 3,100 data centers for 12 different agencies. “That’s completely unnecessary,” she said.
Overall, Sanford talked about the urgency of getting the nation’s financial house in order and noted he won top rankings as a fiscal conservative and taxpayer’s friend both as congressman and as governor. “We’re at an incredible tipping point,” he said.
While Colbert Busch also talked about getting the nation’s financial house in order, she also said, “This is not the end of our time as we know it. The sky is not falling, Henny Penny.”
Read more later at postandcourier.com and in Tuesday’s newspaper.