So much for being South Carolina’s favorite son: Despite polling ahead of at least three of the candidates who’ve been stumping hard in South Carolina, Comedy Central faux conservative Stephen Colbert’s bid to get on the ballot for the upcoming Democratic primary in his home state was shot down on Thursday (November 1) by the executive committee of the South Carolina Democratic Party. Colbert’s bid was voted down 13-3.
The Doritos-sponsored campaign, which was announced last month, seemed to be on the road to legitimacy this week when Colbert’s campaign paid the $2,500 filing fee necessary to get into the race just before the noon deadline on Thursday, according to The Associated Press.
Less than two hours later, though, the executive committee of the state’s party denied Colbert’s bid when it voted not to certify the candidacy, according to Keiana Page, a communications assistant in the state Democratic Committee’s office. Using criteria such as whether the candidate was recognized in the national news media as a legitimate candidate and whether they’d actively campaigned in the state, the committee put the kibosh on the Colbert bid.
One of those who voted in favor of certifying Colbert was South Carolina Representative and social-work administrator Gilda Cobb-Hunter, who told MTV News that she thought having Colbert on the ballot would be a good way to bring a national spotlight on issues of concern to her state. “Also, quite frankly, I think we — and I mean elected officials and party officials — take ourselves a bit too seriously and I think an injection of humor would have added to the process,” Cobb-Hunter said, adding that she was also impressed with Colbert’s donation of his campaign funds to the Donors Choose program, which helps teachers get much-needed resources for their classrooms.
“I was looking forward to seeing if [Colbert’s participation] would increase participation by young people,” Cobb-Hunter added. “We’ll never know now.” She described Thursday’s debate by the Executive Council of the Democratic Party Executive Committee as “vigorous,” spearheaded by a “well-organized” group of 13 that she said seemed determined to keep Colbert off the ballot. “I would love to see that kind of energy put toward party building — they were ginned up,” she said, adding jokingly, “[Like,] ’We have to save the state from Stephen Colbert!’ Which I think is hilarious.”
On the Wednesday night edition of his show, “The Colbert Report,” the comic said he had given up his dream of trying to get on the ballot as both a Republican and Democrat when he learned that the fee to run as a Republican was $35,000, which is well over the $5,000 he said he was allowed to spend based on election rules.
He may not have met the criteria of being considered a legitimate candidate by the national media, but AP reports that Colbert did appear on Sunday at the University of South Carolina in Columbia to stump for his candidacy (or maybe it was for his recently released, best-selling book, “I Am America [And so Can You!]”?) telling several hundred fans that he would, if elected, “crush the state of Georgia.”
A recent national poll by a Republican polling firm of likely 2008 voters showed that in his short time in the running, Colbert was coming in at 2.3 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary, which put him in fifth place above Governor Bill Richardson (2.1 percent), Congressman Dennis Kucinich (2.1 percent) and former Senator Mike Gravel (less than 1 percent).
On Thursday night’s show, while munching on Doritos chips, Colbert joked that he’d had disagreements with Democrats in the past, calling them, “pansies, twits, losers, dumbocrats, democrazies and Nazis … but hey, that’s all water under their Nazi bridge. If I make it on the ballot I can play ball; as they say, ’When in Sodom, vote Pelosi.” Colbert then ran down the list of requirements for getting on the ballot in South Carolina, including, he joked, getting rid of Ronald Reagan tattoos and “being generally acknowledged or recognized in news media throughout the United States as viable candidates.”
As proof of the latter, he flashed the recent headline “Stephen Colbert Moves Ahead Of Richardson, Closes In On Biden In National Poll!” from the Editor & Publisher Web site. “Plus,” he added, “ABC News says my campaign is ’no joke.’ I ask you, is anyone saying that about Richardson or Biden? Not after that poll.” The other requirement, he noted, was that candidates had to be “actively campaigning,” which led to some tape of him pressing the flesh last weekend in Columbia, South Carolina, where he was named “South Carolina’s favorite son” by the city’s mayor.
After plying the executive committee with snacks and booze last weekend, Colbert said he was sure he was a lock to get on the ballot. But when Carol Fowler, chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party called to break the news, she had bad news. “The folks from the executive council loved you, they loved the fact that you sucked up to them all morning on Sunday. They were crazy about the snacks, the Doritos,” but, she lamented, “I’m sorry. I’m afraid that you didn’t make the cut. You won’t be on our ballot.”
Colbert asked, “Why? Did they not think my candidacy was real enough?” Fowler explained, “They thought maybe that you’re not quite ready to be president.” Colbert then crumpled his Doritos bag and sobbed, “WHY?!”
The good news, though, was that Colbert’s $2,500 check would be returned and Fowler encouraged him to try again in four years … once he’s done some real campaigning in the state.
MTV’s parent company, Viacom, also owns Comedy Central.
[This story was originally published at 4:24 pm E.T. on 11.01.2007]