The closest thing to what Republican voters may soon experience in the soon-to-be-called special election to replace just-appointed Republican Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) in the House was last year in France. That was when French Socialists nominated Francois Hollande as their presidential candidate in a primary over several opponents, including Segolene Royal, his former partner and mother of his four children.
This year, in South Carolina‚??s 1st District that conservative Scott (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 96 percent) represented until being named to succeed former Sen. Jim DeMint, two of the leading GOP contenders to succeed Scott could include former Gov. (2002-10) Mark Sanford and his former wife, Jenny Sanford. As of last week, both Sanfords sent out strong signals they would run for Scott‚??s now-vacant seat in a race whose date Republican Gov. Nikki Haley is likely to set for sometime before the summer.
But there‚??s more. Robert ‚??Teddy‚?Ě Turner, IV, son of leftist media mogul Ted Turner, has said he‚??s running as well‚??as a Republican. A graduate of the Palmetto State‚??s storied Citadel military academy and onetime teacher and cameraman for his father‚??s CNN television network, young Turner told the ‚??Weekly Standard‚?Ě that he is his family‚??s ‚??rogue Republican.‚?Ě In fact, Turner is active in Charleston-area Republican politics and is a past supporter of Scott, one of the tea party‚??s most-favored members of Congress.
Other Republican prospects mentioned include Joe McKeon, Scott‚??s chief of staff, and State Sen. Chip Limehouse. Scott himself told CBS-TV‚??s Bob Schieffer that he would not be surprised if there were ‚??25 or 30‚?Ě candidates vying to succeed him in a district that last sent a Democrat to Congress in 1978.
But the Sanfords are so far the most intriguing part in the Scott succession saga. A former U.S. House Member (1994-2000) who kept his vow to serve three terms and leave, Sanford (lifetime ACU rating: 86 percent) came back to serve as governor and pushed a small-government, low-tax agenda. In 2009, as sources close to Sanford told Human Events he was laying the groundwork for a presidential race, the governor made worldwide headlines by disappearing from sight for five days. After a statement claiming he was ‚??hiking along the Appalachian Trail,‚?Ě Sanford finally admitted tearfully that he had had an affair with an Argentinean named Maria Elena Chapur. He and Jenny were eventually divorced, and the former governor recently said he and his lover would marry.
“To answer your question, yes the accounts are accurate.” Sanford e-mailed the Associated Press shortly before Christmas, regarding rumors he was exploring a bid for his old House district. According to the AP, he promised “further conversation on all this” later.
Jenny Sanford, mother of their four children and long her husband‚??s top campaign adviser, is considered politically savvy. In 2010, her endorsement of close friend Haley was considered a major boost to the then-obscure state legislator‚??s winning race for the Republican nomination for governor. When DeMint announced his resignation to assume the presidency of the Heritage Foundation in November, Jenny Sanford was among those mentioned for the appointment to the Senate that eventually went to Scott.
“I’d be crazy not to look at the race a little bit,” she told reporters about the contest to succeed Scott.
So far, there are special elections scheduled in 2013 to succeed resigned Reps. Scott and Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.). It seems a good bet to say at this point, the race to succeed Scott is the most interesting of the three.