Martin Skelly, a Democratic candidate in the special election for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, formally withdrew from the contest today.
At an 11:30 a.m. press conference in Charleston, Skelly credited the strength of one primary opponent’s campaign as the main reason for his withdrawal.
Citing her national name and the Democratic principles of her platform, Skelly endorsed Elizabeth Colbert-Busch.
"(She) has demonstrated that she is an outstanding candidate who can inspire both the party faithful and the political center we need to achieve consensus and end gridlock in Congress," he said.
Colbert-Busch, who was also present at the press conference, said “I am so pleased and honored to accept his endorsement,” the second she’s received from former primary opponents.
Bobbie Rose, a 2012 candidate for the office, endorsed Colbert-Busch on Jan. 30, two days after pulling out from the race.
Skelly’s withdrawal narrows the Democratic candidate slate to two: Colbert-Busch and Ben Frasier, who has run for congressional offices in almost every election cycle since 1972.
Frasier’s candidacy may have contributed to his decision, too, Skelly alluded.
"When I entered the race, I thought that if my pursuit of the nomination required a divisive primary campaign which would hurt the Democrat's chances (in the general election), then I should step aside," Skelly said.
Known colloquially as the “perennial candidate,” Frasier’s reputed to be a Republican plant who enters Democratic primaries only to harm other candidates’ campaigns.
“At the end of the day, you’re either in it for the party … or you’re in it for yourself,” Skelly said.
Despite today’s announcement, Skelly’s name might still appear on the primary ballots, the State Election Commission said this afternoon. “We will try and hope to (correct the ballots),” said Chris Whitmire, SEC’s Director of Public Information, “but we can’t give definitive answer at the moment.”
Skelly is expected to join Colbert-Busch at a candidate forum tomorrow evening in Ridgeland, where he’ll repeat his endorsement.
Hosted by the executive committee of the Beaufort County Democratic Party, the event begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Beaufort Jasper Hampton Comprehensive Health Services facility (721 Okatie Hwy.).