Political Animal


April 23, 2013 11:08 AM Sanford’s Class Warfare

By Ed Kilgore

Down nine points in the most recent poll and without direct financial help from his national party, Mark Sanford’s counter-attack against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch begins two weeks from the special election balloting, and it’s a patented Palmetto approach, per this report from The Hill’s Cameron Joseph:

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) goes on the attack for the first time in his newest ad, accusing his House opponent, Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, of shilling for “big labor.”
The ad plays video of Colbert Busch saying “The voices of the union are not being heard and I promise to be that voice for you.”
“That’s Elizabeth Colbert Busch fighting for big labor,” the ad’s narrator says. “Colbert Busch is funded by labor union special interest money, even the one trying to shut down Boeing. In Congress she’ll return the favor.”

You may recall that South Carolina Republicans have gone well beyond the usual GOP attacks on public sector unions or union shop arrangements by demonizing the very concepts of collective bargaining and labor representation. Sanford’s one-time protege and gubernatorial successor Nikki Haley made that abundantly clear in her 2012 State of the State Address by saying: “We’ll make the unions understand full well that they are not needed, not wanted and not welcome in the state of South Carolina.” She appointed a union-busting labor attorney to head up the state’s Labor Department, and helped make the National Labor Relations Board’s support for a union action against the Boeing Corporation’s relocation of facilities from Washington to South Carolina a big national GOP issue (as alluded to in Sanford’s ad; the Boeing plant is in the 1st district).

For her part, Busch has supported the Boeing plant and claims to have worked closely with the company in setting up its South Carolina operations. She’s also hitting Sanford for voting repeatedly against funding for the Ex-Im Bank, of which Boeing is a major beneficiary. But Sanford is demanding she return all union campaign donations and officially join the state’s march back towards the nineteenth century.

It was inevitable that Sanford would try to make this contest partisan and ideological instead of personal, given his wretched favorable/unfavorable ratings and his inept handling of relations with his ex-wife, a vastly more popular figure among 1st district Republicans who could have probably won this seat in a walk had she tried. Perhaps the ex-governor will supplement the union-bashing approach with some tasteful ads about Busch’s ties to baby-killers and looters and snarky elitists like her brother. But straight class warfare (always, of course, with a racial undertone) has been a winner for GOP pols in this state for some time, so maybe he’ll put all his money on maximum subservience to the almighty Job Creators.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on April 23, 2013 11:37 AM:

    One wonders if the goobers and goopers in that state that's too big to be an asylum, will ever have it enter their re-inforced concrete craniumns, that the reason they live in that low-paying sh*thole, is that they never stood up for themselves - except, of course, when it came to being against black people, women, and gays, being entitled to the same rights and privileges, as white males.

    Oh, and unions.
    Unions, goobers and goopers, with their union jobs, which might actually get you and your family enough money to either move from that low-paying sh*thole, or improve that into a decent-paying state.

    Sanford does "Divide and conquer" very well.

    He just forgot not to use it on his family, after he fell head-over-not-quite-tar-heels in love with his South American tootsie.

    And now, he's divided from his family, and if his wife has any more to do with, likely be conquered by a female Democrat.

  • Maritza on April 23, 2013 11:44 AM:

    She she drop the Mother Lode on Sanford with a major attack ad?

  • Steve M. on April 23, 2013 12:05 PM:

    I thought he'd go after her for being in the same party as the evil America-hater who decided to try Dzhokar Tsarnaev in civilian court. But maybe that's coming next.

  • Tired Liberal on April 23, 2013 1:18 PM:

    It never ceases to amaze me that low wage, low benefit workers can be whipped into an anti-union frenzy by the establishment powers. I guess it is a form of Stockholm Syndrome.

  • Peter C on April 24, 2013 10:28 AM:

    "labor union special interest money"

    I sometimes marvel at Republican's ability to splice together words without facing howls of disbelief. Do labor unions have 'special interests'? If so, what are they? Safe working conditions? Fare wages? Is the 40-hour workweek a 'special interest'? Special to WHOM?

    Labor unions struggle against specific companies (like Boeing). Boeing DOES have 'specials interests' (specific tax breaks, specific government contracts, specific regulatory loopholes and exemptions). Labor unions, though, have 'GENERAL INTERESTS'.

    We seem to have lost a mechanism to challenge this sort of rhetorical slight-of-hand, whereby good things are smeared with negative impressions solely by stringing words together without any valid connection between them.

    We'd do well to challenge these word salads asking politicians 'WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT???!'. They are used to saying whatever drivel their consultants cook up. However, they'll pay a political price when they stumble over explanations they make up on the spot. Their is no solid thinking behind what they say.

  • Epicurus on April 24, 2013 12:45 PM:

    Boy, the Koch brothers are certainly getting their money's worth out of ole Nikki. What a disgraceful thing to say...yeah, Nikki, unions have never done anything for this country...except maybe the five-day work week, no child labor, workplace safety regulations,etc., etc., ad nauseum. Please; pull the other leg, it has bells on it. I am so sick and tired of hearing this BS from the bought-and-paid-for shills of the Republican party.