Frasier reprising role as candidate


EDITOR'S NOTE: The Post and Courier will profile all 18 Republican and Democratic 1st Congressional District candidates by the March 19 primaries. This is the 16th installment.

Ben Frasier said he always has saved his small change so when a congressional race rolls around, he would have enough to enter.

“I said, 'Lord, if you don't want me to run, don't let me raise the filing fee,' ” he said.

Whether or not divine intervention was involved, Frasier paid the $2,900 fee in January to run for South Carolina's 1st Congressional District seat, this time freshly vacated by Tim Scott, now a U.S. senator.

Frasier has run for this office more than a dozen times. He came closest in June 2010, when he won the Democratic primary. He then lost to Scott the following November, 65 percent to 29 percent.

Frasier knows he faces stiff headwinds in his March 19 Democratic primary against Elizabeth Colbert Busch, development director at Clemson's Restoration Institute and sister of comedian Stephen Colbert.

Many high-profile Democrats have endorsed Busch, including Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and U.S. Reps. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina and John Lewis of Georgia. Charleston businessman Martin Skelly also endorsed Busch when he ended his candidacy weeks ago.

Clyburn has questioned whether Frasier was planted, but Frasier said his campaign is real.

“I'm a Democrat, don't forget. I am not a plant,” he said. “I think they're just throwing something out there to try to confuse the people to keep the people from voting for me.”

Frasier said he knows his positions on issues vary from the standard Democratic platform. He favors smaller government, lower taxes, a strong defense and closing the border to illegal immigrants.

Some of his other positions are more in line with his party, such as supporting better education and technical training, reducing home foreclosures and supporting freedom from foreign oil.

In an interview, Frasier hit on these talking points with a campaign card leftover from his 2010 race.

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He said he runs a few businesses, including a car service and a security service, and he splits his time between homes in Maryland and Wadmalaw Island. He often is gone from the Lowcountry for weeks at a time, and is even somewhat of a mystery around his home turf.

State Rep. Robert Brown, a Democrat who lives in Hollywood and whose district covers Wadmalaw, said he backs Colbert Busch, partly because he has seen little of Frasier.

“It's kind of perplexing to me why he runs so many times when he hardly does any campaigning,” Brown said. “I don't hardly see him around in the district.”

Still, Brown said Frasier has earned a sort of name recognition over the years by virtue of his prior campaigns.

Frasier said he has been on the Democratic primary ballot all but three times since 1972; all campaigns but one were for Congress (the other was for a U.S. Senate seat). He said once he just missed the filing deadline; another time he got confused about the filing dates.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.