The race to fill South Carolina’s vacant first congressional district turned a bit testy this week … as expected. Seems like it’s always “silly season” in South Carolina, doesn’t it?

With sixteen candidates seeking one nomination, it was really only a matter of time before the punches started to fly publicly. And not surprisingly candidates are focusing their jabs where they believe opponents can be made to appear insufficiently “conservative.”

The most recent blow? A website with ties to Charleston County, S.C. school board member Elizabeth Moffly accused one of her rivals of not voting for Mitt Romney in the 2012 general election.

“Teddy Turner not so conservative after all,” the website SC Hotline declared, a headline which was accompanied by this graphic of Turner’s alleged voting record …

(Click to enlarge)


Pic: SC Hotline

Wait … voting for Mitt Romney is indicative of one’s “conservatism?”

Ummmmmm … okay.

Anyway, questions about Turner’s ideological mooring are especially troubling for his campaign given that his father is liberal media mogul Ted Turner. One of the root perceptions about this race has always been that Turner isn’t, well, “so conservative after all.”

That’s probably why Turner’s campaign manager, Michael Smith, moved quickly and emphatically to refute the SC Hotline report.

“Teddy Turner voted for Mitt Romney in the general election,” Smith told FITS. “I know he voted in the general election because I stood in line with him at the National Guard Armory in Mt. Pleasant.”

Smith then went on to rip SC Hotline and its editor, Jeffrey Sewell, for being nothing but a paid political mouthpiece.

“The information SCHotline manager Jeffrey Sewell has presented his readers is inaccurate, but that’s nothing new,” Smith said. “Frankly, we wouldn’t expect anything less than this kind of specious accusation to go up on a blog that happens to be managed by one of Elizabeth Moffly’s consultants. Nor would we expect anything less from a consultant whose candidate has yet to climb above the two percent mark, according to several sets of polling data shared with members of our team.”

Ouch …

Moffly is one of the lower tier candidates in the first congressional district race, whereas Turner is one of the upper tier candidates (a grouping which also includes former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford and S.C. Sen. Larry Grooms). By picking a fight with Turner, Moffly is “punching up” – looking to simultaneously damage one of her opponents and create some ink for herself.

Did she land this jab? Obviously that depends on who is telling the truth …

Sixteen GOP candidates are seeking their party’s nomination for the U.S. House seat vacated last month by newly appointed U.S. Sen. Tim Scott – so expect to see a lot more jabs in the days leading up to the March 19 primary election.