Political expert offers projections on special election

By Nikki

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV)There are 19 candidates in the running to South Carolina's 1st Congressional District race, filling the seat left open by Senator Tim Scott.

Sixteen of those candidates are republicans with former governor Mark Sanford leading the pack, according to local political expert Gibbs Knotts.

"It looks like Sanford is ahead somewhere around thirty percent," said Knotts who is also a professor at the College of Charleston. "In a field of sixteen people, everybody knows who Mark Sanford is and he also has some money left over in his campaign war chest that he was allowed to use, and with money you can hire staffers, you can run commercials."

If one candidate doesn't receive more than 50% of the vote, there will be a runoff between the top two vote getters. Knotts says he expects Sanford to fall into that group. As for who he could face, he says, that's still up in the air.

"The folks people are talking about are Teddy Turner. He's been very well financed. He has some of the first commercials on the air," said Knotts. "Chip Limehouse has been in the legislature for a longtime and well known. Kuhn and Grooms are also being talked about and so is Bostic."

Despite his self-admitted fall from grace, some say that Sanford may still struggle to attract women voters.

"If he only gets 25%, I'm not sure voters have forgiven him, but if he goes into a runoff and ends up winning and of course ends up winning the general election, I think we can say voters in the first district have forgiven Sanford for some of his past deeds," said Knotts.

On the democratic side, Knotts says Elizabeth Colbert-Busch should easily win.

"Obviously, Colbert-Busch is well-funded. She's well-known. She's got a pretty famous brother," said Knotts.

However, he isn't sure is that winning streak will carry on during the General Election.

"This is a race the republicans should win. Obama only won 40% of vote in this district," said Knotts.

If there is a runoff, it will take place on April 2. The General Election will take place on May 7th.