Sixteen (that’s 16) candidates in one Republican primary

1stdistrict screen

While Mark Sanford is getting all the attention — NPR wants to talk to me about him tomorrow — he is actually but one of 16 candidates officially seeking the GOP nomination in the 1st Congressional District.

I’m thinking that’s gotta be a record, at least in a special election, and at least in South Carolina. Lord knows our cup runneth over with Republicans these days, and it’s no biggie for six or seven of them to go chasing after a choice situation on the public payroll, but sixteen?

Only four of whom I really know anything at all about. In descending order of what I know about them, they are Sanford, Larry Grooms, Chip Limehouse and Elizabeth Moffly. After Sanford, though, my knowledge drops off extremely. All I remember, without looking back in my blog, about Larry Grooms is that he wanted Fred Thompson to run for president in 2008, and I saw him at Rick Perry’s announcement in 2011 (after supporting Perry, he later very publicly urged him to drop out). I know that Elizabeth Moffly ran for state superintendent once, so I interviewed her, and she later wrote me an angry note that sort of puzzled me at the time.

With Limehouse — well, I knew I had read and even written about him in the past, but I had to go back and search my archive to remember particulars. I found that he supported Rick Perry. He pushed for creation of a special SC license plate that commemorated “Big Red,” the flag under which Citadel students fired on the Star of the West, which was trying to resupply Fort Sumter, in the most extreme, inexcusable, violent incidence of student unrest in U.S. history. He was endorsed by the Club for Growth. He sponsored a bill to make the Marsh Tacky the official South Carolina Heritage horse.


What else do I know about this field? Well, I saw a remarkable picture that ran Feb. 10 in the Post and Courier that showed 15 of the 16 standing together (screenshot above — here’s the original). I saw that all were white (in a race to replace Tim Scott) and Elizabeth Moffly was the only woman. That’s about all I could tell.

Here, according to Wikipedia, are the 16:

I assume that’s accurate and inclusive. I haven’t found a complete list in the MSM. Mind you, there were 16 others who were talked about as candidates, but who declined to run. That included Jenny Sanford, Tom Davis, Jim Merrill, Carroll Campbell III, Thomas Ravenel and Chip Campsen. That’s actually a better-known bunch than most of the people who actually filed.

What about the Democrats? Well, scuttlebutt tells me that Stephen Colbert’s sister, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, is going to win that over a perennial candidate, Ben Frasier.

And what happens after that? Well, normally in that district, the Republican wins. That’s been the case since Tommy Hartnett in 1980. Which is why so many are seeking the nomination of that party, I suppose. Of course, a Democrat came within a couple of points in 2008, with Obama’s coattails. There aren’t going to be any Obama coattails this time.

Sanford, of course, has the advantage in the GOP contest, by far. Not only does common sense dictate that, but every poll I’ve seen reported. Here’s one. But right now, I’m putting more stock in the common sense thing.

The primary’s next month, and the special election is in May.

15 thoughts on “Sixteen (that’s 16) candidates in one Republican primary

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    More from Larry Grooms, via Twitter:

    Honored to speak from the Capitol steps this morning about my efforts to fight the anti-homeschooling bill…

    Also, Hogan “Chuckles” Gidley — last seen working with Rick Santorum — sent me this release in Grooms’ behalf yesterday:

    Charleston, SC – Today, the Grooms for Congress campaign released its first television advertisement. The ad – entitled “DIFFERENT” – begins airing today on broadcast and cable television across the 1st Congressional District.
    “DIFFERENT” explains that it’s time for a proven conservative leader with a record to back it up. Sen. Grooms has stood with conservatives for years and has taken incoming attacks from the other side. Through it all, Grooms has remained true to his conservative principles while protecting South Carolina’s reputation and actually accomplishing positive things for the state. We need someone who’s more than talk, we need someone with a proven record – and that’s Larry Grooms.
    To view the ad, please click the following link:

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    From where I sit, Grooms seems to be the candidate running the hardest, after Sanford. Another release from Hogan Gidley (then again, maybe the others just don’t have my email address):


    Duncan, “Larry Grooms Has The Record, Values and Conviction Best Suited to Represent the Lowcountry in Congress.”
    Mulvaney, “Larry’s Record is One We Know And Trust.”

    Charleston, SC – Today, the Grooms for Congress campaign received two coveted conservative endorsements when South Carolina’s 3rd District Congressman Jeff Duncan and South Carolina’s 5th District Congressman announced their endorsement of Larry Grooms for Congress.

    South Carolina’s Congressman from the 3rd District Jeff Duncan said:

    “South Carolina’s Congressional Delegation is known across the country and in Washington for being a united voice for conservatism. In fact, we’ve earned a reputation of working together, standing on principle and protecting South Carolina values. It’s important to ensure that the person who replaces Tim Scott be a reliable conservative, a proven fighter and a leader who will join our mission to cut wasteful Washington spending.

    I’m convinced the best person for the job is Larry Grooms.

    While there are several good candidates in the 1st Congressional race, Larry Grooms has the record, values, and conviction best suited to represent the Lowcountry in Congress. I’ve known Larry for years and worked with him in Columbia at the Statehouse. Together, we fought for conservative reforms and I know Larry both as a man of faith and as a conservative leader. Like myself, Larry comes from a small business background, and knows what its like to sign the front of a check, write a budget and limit wasteful spending to keep that budget balanced.

    Larry is also a strong defender of the 2nd amendment. His “Firearms Liberty Act” recognizes the uniquely American right to bear arms even as our President and many in congress try to limit that right. If South Carolina sends Larry Grooms to Washington, we’d have an ally we could depend on to fight President Obama’s agenda, and help us restore the American dream to all South Carolinians. Larry will be ready on day one to pick up where Tim Scott left off and be key member of our team.

    During my short time in Washington, I’ve learned that when it comes to electing your representative, it’s not enough to simply have an “R” by your name. We need someone we can count on to hold the Republican Party accountable to conservative principles and follow our Founding Fathers’ example. I’m convinced Larry Grooms is the best person for this job. I hope you’ll join me, Congressman Mulvaney, and conservatives all across the 1st District in supporting Larry Grooms for Congress.”

    South Carolina’s Congressman from the 5th district Mick Mulvaney said:

    “When I heard that Tim Scott’s congressional seat had opened up, I was excited for Tim, South Carolina and the US Senate. But Tim’s open Congressional seat left me with some serious questions. Who would fill Tim’s conservative shoes in the 1st District and pick up where Tim left off? When Larry Grooms announced for Congress – those questions were answered with a strong credentialed conservative. I know Larry well and I’ve worked with him on several issues when we served together in the state senate. Larry’s brand of conservatism, leadership and strength will serve South Carolina and the 1st District well in Congress.”

    “Conservatives like Jeff and I need Larry to stand with us on the most important issues facing our country today. When it comes to reducing taxes, cutting wasteful Washington spending and protecting our liberties, I believe Larry Grooms is the right man for the job. Larry has been in the trenches, and he has proven his conservative credentials in the state senate. We want Larry on our team. While there are many good candidates in the field – Larry’s record is one we know and trust. He will go to Washington and protect South Carolina from day one.”

    Congressional candidate and State Senator Larry Grooms said:

    “I’m truly honored and greatly humbled by Jeff and Mick’s endorsement. It means so much, especially in a crowded primary, for sitting Congressmen to come forward and support our campaign. Jeff and Mick realize Washington is spends too much money and they fight every day to cut spending, lower taxes and defend our liberties. And when I’m elected to Congress, Jeff, Mick and I will join together and present a united conservative voice to cut wasteful Washington spending and protect South Carolina values. This is a great day for our campaign – and I’m blessed to receive Jeff and Mick’s support.”

  3. Mark Stewart

    Friends helping friends paint themselves into an irrelevant corner.

    Is it so counter-intuitive to think that competitive redistricting would actually result in a healthier, more vigorous system of representation? Convervatism in South Carolina really means stagnation. It is amusing that this is the party that purports to be the champion of free markets.

    But then I guess we are used to stagnation. It’s the reveling in it that is so striking.

  4. Brad Warthen Post author

    South Carolina has always wallowed in stagnation. Our political culture and the governmental structure that upholds it have always been about resisting change, in ways that most actual officeholders don’t fully understand…

  5. Mark Stewart

    Why SC has been in economic decline since 1820. I’d say social decline as well, but I’m partial to the people who are trying to bootstrap an existence in the state. I think the silent majority is the vast number of people who really want the state to advance, but can’t get around the boorish clique because those habits and thought patterns are difficult to fully escape. They are seductive in the way a languid summer afternoon rewards those who sit for a spell in the shaded breeze.

    Who wants to hear that what we have is a culture of failure? So we don’t talk about it except in the socially acceptable ways of reveling in our “culture”.

    Adaptive cultures, however, find ways to reward those ideas and things that work and let fall away those that do not. Adaptive cultures progress. Adaptive cultures grow and are strengthened. Adaptive cultures see a future that is better than the past or the present. A politician should be an adaptive leader, not a sea anchor.

    1. Doug Ross

      The “boorish clique” is located in the State House. It’s a dozen or so guys who have no worries about leaving office until they are carried out in a casket.

      That’s the way it is. To expect something different will require term limits.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Doug, with rare exceptions, the big problem isn’t particular individuals. It’s the way the system is set up.

        You like to talk about Harrell and Leatherman. But if they were replaced tomorrow by Smith and Jones, you would soon be insisting to me that the problem is Smith and Jones. Which it would not be.

        The last legislative leader who was personally an obstacle to reform — out of proportion to the role he played in the system — was Glenn McConnell. He actually understood the Legislative State (few lawmakers do), was devoted to preserving it, and knew how to do it…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          That being said, McConnell had his good points. He did a lot to improve the judicial selection process, for instance.

          And I keep hearing good things about his dedication in running the state Office on Aging. For a guy who didn’t want to be lieutenant governor, he seems to have thrown himself into the limited duties of the office with zeal…

  6. Kathryn Fenner

    Too many people who care about advancing our state limit their advocacy to bumper stickers, Facebook and online comments. Many don’t bother to vote because they believe, wrongly many times, that it is futile to do so.

    Get out there, people! Write your elected and appointed officials, support better candidates, both with your vote and with a few bucks. Go to public hearings and make your presence known!

  7. Pingback: Hear ADCO’s Brad Warthen on NPR this weekend | ADCO

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