South Carolina Republican Reps. shrug off write-in campaign for Sanford rival

WASHINGTON – As the South Carolina special congressional election approaches, a conservative group has set up a write-in campaign for state Sen. Larry Grooms, to give conservatives an alternative to the Republican nominee, former Gov. Mark Sanford.

South Carolina Republican Reps. Jeff Duncan and Mick Mulvaney both endorsed Grooms in the primary, but gave The Daily Caller the verbal equivalent of a shrug when asked for their thoughts on the write-in campaign.

Sanford is vying with Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch to become the next U.S. representative from South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. Former Rep. Tim Scott vacated the seat when he was appointed to the Senate after former Sen. Jim DeMint resigned to head the conservative Heritage Foundation.

“If it’s Mark Sanford, I’m walking out now,” said Duncan, when first approached with a question.

But he was willing to talk about the write-in campaign for Grooms, which he predicted would be helpful for positioning Grooms for future elections.

“You know, I don’t really have any thoughts. I saw that yesterday,” he began.

“I don’t think it can hurt Larry with name I.D. Let’s just assume that Colbert Busch wins — and that’s not necessarily my assumption, but in this context, let’s assume she wins — if Larry decides to run in 2014 it helps his name I.D.,” Duncan said.

“What this does to the Republican candidate in this race today, I don’t know, I haven’t thought that far,” Duncan said.

“But in the broader scheme of saying, well, if in Larry’s mind he’s thinking or assuming that Colbert Busch wins, how does he position himself, or his supporters how do they position him, that’s probably what they’re thinking,” he concluded.

Mulvaney did not offer any opinion on the write-in campaign, but noted that Grooms himself has “repudiated it.”

The congressman said that he did not think it would split the conservative vote and give Colbert Busch an easy path to victory.

“No, I don’t really think so,” he said, when asked. “I mean, I’m concerned obviously about the outcome of the election for all the reasons that everybody follows. But if you were going to go to vote to write in Larry Grooms’ name, or even Curtis Bostic’s name, I doubt that you were otherwise gonna go and vote for Mark Sanford; you were probably gonna stay home otherwise. So I don’t know if it changes the outcome that much.”