National Democrats launch ad buy in Sanford race

April 18, 2013

Mark Sanford lost the support of the national GOP on Wednesday. Less than 24 hours later, national Democrats are getting into the race on behalf of Sanford's opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching a $205,000 ad buy in the Charleston-based district, the committee confirmed to Post Politics.

The ad buy comes just a day after a Democratic super PAC, the House Majority PAC, also launched a significant ad buy on Colbert Busch's behalf.

Both ads hit Sanford for his ethical problems moreso than his extramarital affair, which tarnished the last two years of his tenure as governor. The DCCC ad, though, features footage of someone hiking in nature -- a clear reference to Sanford's "hiking the Appalachian Trail" excuse for why he was absent while on a fling with his mistress.

South Carolina's 1st district went 58 percent for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race, but Sanford's personal problems -- most recently a trespassing complaint his ex-wife filed against him -- have put the seat in play. Polls before the trespassing complaint showed the two were already in a tight contest, and special elections are notoriously unpredictable.

Despite the competitive nature of the race, the National Republican Congressional Committee on Wednesday cut Sanford lose, saying it would not spend money on the race because of Sanford's unwillingness to come clean about his personal problems.

The DCCC is off to a fast fundraising start this year, announcing Thursday morning that it raised more than $10 million in March and $22.6 million so far this year.

Update 2:28 p.m.: Sanford has responded to the ad buy, accusing Colbert Busch of relying on the national Democratic Party even as she campaigns as a different kind of Democrat.

“My opponent has gone through great lengths to distance herself from the liberal Beltway crowd, but it simply isn’t believable that those same folks would be trying to buy this race for someone who would truly be an independent voice in Washington," Sanford said in a statement.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix, the Post’s top political blog.
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Aaron Blake | April 18, 2013