Mark Sanford Down 9 Points in S.C.

Photograph by Mic Smith/AP Photo

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford speaks with reporters at Hay Tire & Automotive in Mount Pleasant, S.C., on April 22, 2013.


Colbert and politics.

It started as a joke — the popular host of Comedy Central’s Colbert report running for president of South Carolina and opening his own super-PAC.

Now it’s no joke — Stephen Colbert’s sister, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, is up nine points up in a contest with Mark Sanford, the former governor of South Carolina and former congressman seeking a return to Washington in a May 7 special election, according to the latest survey from Public Policy Polling.

The Democrat’s apparent advantage over Republican Sanford has grown by 7 percentage points in the past month — a month in which the national Republican establishment has backed away from financing Sanford’s bid, a month in which it turns out he has shown up uninvited at his ex-wife’s house for some football-game watching.

Busch is favored among 50 percent of those surveyed, Sanford 41 percent, in the latest survey, run April 19-21. The poll of 796 voters has a possible margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Not only have the national Republicans walked away — Democrats are piling on the candidate whose name became synonymous with the Apalachian Trail when the then-governor’s staff reported that the governor was out hiking when actually away on a trip to see his Argentine mistress.

“Take a hike, Sanford,” Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri says in a fundraising appeal for Busch today.

“ Right now, the Republican Party is saying — at least publicly — they’re pulling their resources out of this race, too embarrassed to defend Sanford after he was caught trespassing at his ex-wife’s house,” McCaskill’s e-mail appeal says. “That’s what the Republicans said when I ran against Todd `Legitimate Rape’ Akin last year, but they lied. They came back to massively fund Akin in the homestretch of our campaign, and they’ll do the same for Sanford.

“Please help give Elizabeth some of that grassroots power you gave me last year, so she can stand up to Sanford and the Republican Party’s ad blitz that’s sure to come over these final days of this campaign.”

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