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Elizabeth Colbert Busch wedged in crowded special election race

Since South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley tapped Rep.

Since South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley tapped Rep. Tim Scott for the Senate, the competition for the 1st District’s congressional seat has become a very crowded race.

There are 16 Republican candidates, including former Gov. Mark Sanford and Teddy Turner, son of media mogul Ted Turner.

Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch, older sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, is running for office for the first time. She explained to The Daily Rundown’s Chuck Todd why she chose to get into politics now.

“I think it’s time to have a common sense approach to what’s happening, and to represent my district, and to stop this extreme behavior and dysfunctional behavior in Washington, D.C.,” she said.

Colbert Busch is the frontrunner in the Democratic primary against Ben Frasier, but the general election race will be tough for any Democrat. The Charleston-area seat has been a GOP stronghold for more than 30 years.

She lamented congressional gridlock and lack of bipartisan solutions, noting sequester cuts that would hit her part of South Carolina. “The impacts to us are extraordinary, absolutely extraordinary,” she said. “And I’m sure that’s true for all the states around the country, but I’m speaking for District 1.”

When Todd pressed her on whether she viewed government as too big or too small, she didn’t answer directly, but instead spoke about the sequester. She also didn’t directly answer multiple questions from Todd about whether she would be open to raising the eligibility age for social security and medicare.

“First of all, we need to protect it for our seniors. It’s something they paid into. It’s something they deserve, and it’s something we need to protect. I don’t want to diminish it or have it taken away at all," she said.

Last week, Colbert Busch gave her first national television interview to msnbc's The Last Word. Still new to the spotlight of national cameras, she used a lot of verbal cliches on The Daily Rundown, like "both sides are digging their heels in," “that’s the low-hanging fruit," “begin with a level playing field,” “we need to peel back the onion," and “move the ball forward.”

In 2001, Colbert Busch donated $500 to Mark Sanford’s first gubernatorial campaign, but she maintained that she has still always considered herself a Democrat “along the John Spratt, Fritz Hollings line,” referring to two Democratic politicians from South Carolina.

Colbert Busch has been the business director for Clemson University’s Restoration Institute for the last five years, and before that worked in the business department for a major ocean liner. She said that growing up in their family, “Politics was always of interest, because also remember, we lived part of our lives in Washington, D.C., where local news was national news.” She told the AP that she didn’t want the focus of her campaign to be on her famous younger brother.

The special election primary is on March 19, and the general election will be held on May 7.