Can Stephen Colbert's Sister Beat Disgraced Ex-S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford?

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Can Stephen Colbert's Sister Beat Disgraced Ex-S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford?
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Can Stephen Colbert's Sister Beat Disgraced Ex-S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford?

In her first run for office, Stephen Colbert's sister, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, faces a man who might seem like an easy opponent.

Former Gov. Mark Sanford, who won Tuesday's Republican runoff election, was censured by the state legislature over state travel expenses he used to carry on an extramarital affair while in office. He was ordered to pay more than $70,000 in ethics fines -- the most in state history -- after Associated Press investigations raised questions about his use of state, private and commercial aircraft.

You might think Colbert Busch, the Democratic candidate, could win just by saying, again and again, "How can you trust Sanford with taxpayer dollars after he blew them on an affair?" (Just for example; she hasn't actually said that.)

But it won't be that simple.

South Carolina's heavily Republican 1st Congressional District has elected a Republican candidate for the last three decades, which makes any Democratic candidate a longshot.

But Colbert Busch released an internal poll taken before the Republican primary showing that voters polled prefer her over Sanford 47 percent to his 44 percent.

The poll's results are close to those of another poll last week from Public Policy Polling that declared the race "a toss up," and said Colbert Busch leads Sanford 47 to 45 percent.

Colbert Busch's brother may be a help and a liability: The "Colbert Report" host is perhaps the best political satirist in the country, and hasn't been shy about supporting his sister. But if South Carolina voters believe Stephen Colbert goes over the line in his critiques of Sanford, they may take it out on his sister. (The two are pictured above at a recent campaign fundraiser breakfast.)

Sanford is running to take back a Congressional seat he held from 1994 to 2000. He was elected governor in 2002 and served two terms, though the second was marred by the affair and ethics violations. He is now engaged to the woman with whom he carried out the affair.

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