A Last Word exclusive with Elizabeth Colbert Busch

Updated

Elizabeth Colbert Busch, Democratic congressional candidate for South Carolina’s 1st district, has announced her run for a House seat in an upcoming South Carolina special election. Colbert Busch hopes to fill the congressional seat held by Republican Tim Scott until he was appointed to fill the state’s U.S. Senate seat, left vacant by the resignation of Jim DeMint.

The would-be politician is already stepping up to settle some long-simmering, controversial debates. For example: how do you pronounce the family’s last name? Colbert Busch who joined msnbc’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell in her first national TV interview, says that unlike her famous brother, Stephen Colbert, she pronounces her last name with a hard “t.”

When we were growing up, my father told us a story about our heritage, and that we actually came from a French family…And his name was Jean-Baptiste Colbert [Cole-bare].  And so that is where that name Colbert came up.  And they were our descendents. And so my father said your name is Colbert in French. We pronounce it Colbert here. He said, so you choose which would you prefer. So some of my brothers chose Colbert, and some of my – and some of us chose Colbert.”


All clear now?

Better known as “Lulu,” the childhood nickname that faux-newscaster Stephen Colbert calls her, Colbert Busch has already received a shout-out on her brother’s cable program.

“Holy cow! My sister is running for Congress!” Colbert said on The Colbert Report. He pledged not to use his airtime to promote her campaign. “No free airtime, Lulu! As a broadcast journalist I am obligated to maintain pure objectivity. It doesn’t matter that my sister is intelligent, hardworking, compassionate, and dedicated to the people of South Carolina. I will not be mentioning any of that on my show.”

Colbert Busch also talked about her brother’s sense of humor. “Stephen was actually the youngest of 11.  And he was an observer. Stephen always watched what was going on. There were 10 of us running around, and Stephen is the youngest…. He was always watching everything that we’ve done. But he has always had a very intellectual sense of humor.”

Colbert Busch faces another infamous South Carolinian in this race—Mark Sanford. Currently on a redemption publicity tour, former Gov. Mark Sanford is asking for a second chance from voters after a scandalous affair derailed his political career. Teddy Turner, the son of media mogul Ted Turner, and and Chip Limehouse, a state representative, are among 16 Republicans running for South Carolina’s 1st District seat.

Colbert Busch is one of two Democrats seeking the seat. Her opponent in the Democratic primary is Ben Frasier.

Colbert Busch has already received fundraising help from her brother. The comedian encouraged supporters to attend a New York fundraising dinner later this month. “I know she is a bright, competent, caring woman who will work hard on behalf of all the citizens of South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. This is an open seat due to the former Republican Congressman’s appointment to the U.S. Senate. There are three Democrats and 16 Republicans running in the Primary, including former governor and renowned hike-lover Mark Sanford. Our chances look good.”

After flirting with his own bids for president and senator, Stephen Colbert has a super PAC which has raised more than $1 million. Could some of that find its way to his sister’s campaign? Colbert Busch said no.  “Before I had announced my campaign, Stephen had decided to distribute those funds for the super PAC. He divided the funds among 3 charities,” Colbert Busch clarified.

Colbert Busch told the AP she also wouldn’t let her brother overshadow her campaign. “I’m so proud of what he is and what he has accomplished. But when people see what I have done and they know the work we have done and they know me as a person and a professional, it will be fine,” she said.

On Sept. 11, 1974, her father and two of her brothers were killed in a plane crash. Colbert Busch was 19 and a sophomore in college. In 2000, another one of her brothers died from illness. She was also working in a downtown office building in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, when the hijacked jetliners crashed into the World Trade Center across the street.

Colbert Busch’s first marriage was to a man who was once featured on “America’s Most Wanted”: it ended in divorce, which left her as a single mom of three children making $14,000 a year. With help from her community and family, she returned to college and got her degree and started as a data entry clerk and worked her way up to become director of sales and marketing for a shipping company.

Recently, she took a leave of absence from her position as the director of business development for Clemson University’s Restoration Institute in North Charleston.

Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) has endorsed Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the race for Sen. Tim Scott’s former House seat. “We know what it’s going to take to win that seat,” Clyburn said at a union meeting, according to a video taken by Patch. “I’m going to be endorsing Elizabeth Colbert Busch today because I think it’s important for us to get a nominee out on the Democratic primary that will have a chance at winning.”


Early last month, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley ordered a special election to fill the House seat of Republican Tim Scott, who took over the seat of former Sen. Jim DeMint. Party primaries will take place on March 19 and runoffs will be held on April 2. The general election will take place on May 7.

A Last Word exclusive with Elizabeth Colbert Busch

Updated