The race for the Democratic nomination for South Carolina's First Congressional District narrowed to just two candidates today.
Martin Skelly, an international investment firm operator, bowed out of the race and endorsed Elizabeth Colbert Busch at an 11:30 a.m. joint news conference in downtown Charleston. Colbert Busch and perennial candidate Ben Frasier remain in Democratic Primary.
Skelly said he got into the race to end gridlock and extremism in Washington, D.C., but he said from the outset that he would exit the race if he thought his candidacy would make it harder for a Democrat to win in the General Election.
"The leadership crisis in Washington, because of the absence of dialogue, because of the inflation of the extremes, inspired me to seek the Democratic nomination," Skelly said. "However, when I entered the race, I believed that if my pursuit of the nomination required a divisive primary ... that I (would) step aside and support that qualified candidate."
Skelly, who has never run for elected office before, said supporters should "stay tuned" for his next move.
Colbert Busch said she is still focusing on her primary challenge, and she believes this race is the Democratic Party's best chance to move the First District into its column for the first time in more than 30 years.
She says her background in private maritime shipping industry makes her best suited to sway conservative voters.
"I think it's my background, my job profile, I think it's my business experience ... this makes it different," Colbert Busch said.
Her famous name and fund-raising ability can't hurt. Her brother is Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert, who rose to fame lampooning conservatives. Colbert Busch admits that she saw a huge profile boost after her brother discussed her candidacy last week, but she declined to elaborate on how much of impact — in website views or donations — that exposure created.
Colbert will host a fundraiser for his sister later this month.
Sixteen Republicans are vying for the GOP nomination for the seat formerly held by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-Charleston). Two Green Party candidates are also on the ballot.
Bobbie Rose, who garnered 36 percent of the vote when she ran against Scott in November, already bowed out of the Democratic contest and endorsed Busch in January.
Democrats and Republicans head to a primary on March 19. There will almost assuredly be a Republican run-off on April 2. The general election is May 7. Other key dates in the race.
Already Republicans are jockeying for a sliver of name recognition in the crowded field that includes big names such as former Gov. Mark Sanford. Teddy Turner, son of media mogul Ted Turner, and Rep. Chip Limehouse join local lawyer John Kuhn with early TV ads aimed at getting getting their faces before voters.
Colbert Busch's campaign said they are readying TV ads and they should appear soon.