Gov. Nikki Haley breezed into Charleston for a deep-pocketed fundraiser to help Mark Sanford’s run for Congress, giving the Republican a much-needed late financial boost.
Haley declined to talk with the media Wednesday night on why she was helping Sanford financially, going straight from her traveling vehicle into the South Battery home of luxury car seller Tommy Baker.
Set donation amounts for the event ranged from $250 a person to as high as $1,000 or $2,600 per couple, according to one invitation, with the higher donors getting special recognitions.
Sanford likewise opted not to discuss how the Haley appearance was put in motion. “It’s good,” he said before heading into Baker’s fenced and gated property. “I’m just pleased it’s happening.”
While Haley once considered Sanford a leading political influence, there was a rift that arose out of his much-publicized trip to Argentina that resulted in a record $74,000 ethics fine.
Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer also declined to discuss the specifics of the Haley nod or what the campaign expected to raise from her appearance. But he added it will be “put to good use spreading our message to voters.”
The boost comes as Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch are less than a week away from their special election face-off Tuesday.
Wednesday’s events saw most of the attention focused on West Ashley, where both candidates paid morning visits to several small businesses. Colbert Busch mingled with shoppers at the South Windermere Shopping Center, briefly touching on three parts of her platform: creating jobs, getting the nation’s fiscal house in order, and being a congresswoman voters can trust.
“This is what it’s all about,” she told Brannen Daugherty in his consignment store, Worn. “You guys are the ones who create jobs.”
She also met George Ward, who recently moved here from Maryland and who vowed to vote for her. “New faces in Congress are what we need,” Ward told her.
Sanford visited shops at St. Andrew’s Center and also posed for pictures with supporters. He said voters need to realize there is a big philosophical difference between how he and Colbert Busch would approach problems in Washington.
The Haley appearance came at a crucial time for Sanford. Financial support from the national party dried up after it was revealed April 16 that Sanford’s ex-wife Jenny had accused him of trespassing at her Sullivan’s Island house. Colbert Busch also has raised more money than Sanford since then.
Besides Haley, other Republicans have begun to rally around Sanford in the final days of the campaign. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, whose political rise coincided with Sanford’s, endorsed the former governor Wednesday.
“Mark has a proven track record cutting spending and fighting government expansion,” Graham said, “something we sorely need more of in Washington.”
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, who had held the 1st District seat until January, also issued a statement saying Sanford “merits support.”
“On all the most important issues facing our state and country, from dealing with our dangerous levels of debt, to repealing or resisting the government health care takeover, to standing up for Charleston jobs against the NLRB, First District voters have a stark choice,” Scott said. “Mark Sanford is hands down better on all of those issues.”
The support closely follows endorsements from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and his father, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
The last minute
Some of the 11th-hour dirty tricks that have made South Carolina elections so memorable may be surfacing in the 1st District race.
Published reports contend push polls — which are phone calls disguised as polls that are meant to push voters in a certain direction — are popping up. Wednesday’s reports said the influence was an attempt to dissuade voters from backing Colbert Busch. The liberal blog ThinkProgress said multiple individuals in the state reported receiving the phone calls from a company claiming to be polling on the race.
A Sanford spokesman said he knew nothing about such polling attempts.
“We’re not concerned,” said Colbert Busch’s spokesman James Smith. “Elizabeth is focused on talking to the voters about creating jobs, getting our fiscal house in order and electing a representative they can trust.”
Meanwhile, the state’s political attention will briefly shift to Columbia on Friday where Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen Ted Cruz, R-Texas, will speak at their respective party fundraising dinners.
The 1st District candidates, though, plan to stay in the Lowcountry drumming up last-minute support.