Small-Government Former Gov. Mark Sanford and Stephen Colbert’s Sister Win South Carolina Primaries

Long before Mark Sanford’s very public affair and divorce, Reason featured the former South Carolina governor in our Annual Privatization Report for his work cutting the size of, and improving the efficiency of, government in South Carolina.

Former Gov. Sanford continued his road back on Tuesday night winning South Carolina’s special congressional GOP primary. If he wins a Republican runoff election against the primary’s second place finisher (a recount is needed to determine Sanford’s opponent), he will face Elizabeth Colbert Busch, comedian Stephen Colbert’s sister.

NBC News has the details:

A disgraced ex-governor and the sister of a popular comedian came out victorious on Tuesday in South Carolina’s special congressional primary, possibly setting the stage for an uncommonly tight race for what is normally a Republican safe seat.

Republicans in South Carolina’s 1st congressional district showed forgiveness by supporting Mark Sanford after a campaign focused as much on the former governor’s personal transgressions as his record. Sanford came out on top of the crowded 16-candidate Republican primary, according to the Associated Press.

Sanford, who gained more than 35 percent of the vote, will face a runoff election on April 2 against the second place finisher. The race for the Republican runner-up was much closer and votes were still being tallied late into the night.

Also victorious on Tuesday was Elizabeth Colbert Busch – the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert – who easily won the Democratic primary and will face off against the winner of the Republican run-off election in May.

The seat opened in December when then-Rep. Tim Scott was appointed to fill the Senate seat vacated by Jim DeMint.

In the Annual Privatization Report, then-Gov. Sanford wrote:

Let me be clear up front that in the long run the only way to make government truly efficient is to make it smaller, and this seems to me to be the real clarion call in highlighting the importance of privatization efforts. Efficiency and government are mutually exclusive in our system, and if our Founding Fathers had wanted efficiency I suppose they would have looked more closely at totalitarian systems. They wanted not efficiency, but checks on power in our republic.

In attempting to advance limited government, personal freedom and free markets over government fiat, here are a few things we have found in South Carolina:

Friedman, not freedom, sells: So much of why we should limit government is tied to freedom, but sadly we have found greater leverage in talking about how Thomas Friedman’s new-found and so-called Flat World necessitates limits to government. The point we have made continually over the past three-plus years is that for our state to survive and thrive in this new competition of 6.5 billion people across planet earth, we must make changes to our government cost structure.

Business principles trump ideology in advancing limited government: As an example, many of the successes that were built into the $100 million in last year’s budget savings in South Carolina were sold by talking about business principles. We argued that in the world of business, when your business model changes, you change with it.

It will be interesting to see if Sanford can continue his comeback by winning this House seat and return to his earlier efforts to limit the size of government.

Mark Sanford

Photo by Red Ventures