1st Dist. campaign hits homestretch

Retired telephone worker Lamont Hartwell talks to 1st District hopeful Elizabeth Colbert Busch as she goes door to door Thursday on Beechcraft Street in West Ashley.

Robert Behre

With only four days before their special election, Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch and Republican Mark Sanford laid out ambitious schedules and tried to ensure their supporters arrive at the polls.

Sanford campaigned in Beaufort on Thursday and will make stops on Edisto, Seabrook and Johns islands today. Colbert Busch went door to door in Charleston on Thursday and travels to Beaufort today in a new bus with “Elizabeth Means Business” emblazoned on the side.

A poll by a Republican-leaning blog, redracehorses.com, showed the race in a dead heat, meaning the outcome could turn on the respective get-out-the-vote efforts.

That involves phone calls, both human and automated, and personal visits like the ones Colbert Busch made Thursday evening in West Ashley's Air Harbor neighborhood.

She met with Lamont Hartwell, who moved here six years ago. He told her she has his vote.

“I'm sure you're going to win next Tuesday,” he said.

Meanwhile, dozens of GOP volunteers in Charleston County plan to make calls, deliver signs, canvass neighborhoods, send emails and arrange transportation for those who need it, County Republican Chairman Joe Bustos said Thursday.

“Everyone has a hand in it,” he said. “Everyone is trying to get plugged in wherever they can.”

Judging by early absentee voting, turnout in Tuesday's 1st Congressional District election will be heavier than the 15 percent who voted in March primaries.

In Charleston County, early absentee voting was particularly heavy Monday but has lightened since then, Board of Elections and Voter Registration Director Joseph Debney said. “I would say that the absentee is heavier than for March 19,” he said.

Berkeley County Elections Director Wanda Farley also said absentee voting has been heavier, “although not a lot heavier.”

Colbert Busch's campaign put out a statement repeating her pledge during Monday's debate — that she would give back 10 percent of her congressional salary to 1st District taxpayers “until the country is on a path to put our fiscal house in order.”

Sanford's campaign criticized her new ad in which she says she underscores her fiscal responsibility.

“I find my opponent's newfound advocacy of fiscal responsibility very interesting given the stands she's taken in the past in favor of Obamacare, in favor of government stimulus, and in favor of raising the debt ceiling,” Sanford's statement said.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.