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An independent expenditure group which ran ads on behalf of S.C. Senator Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley) during last month’s GOP primary for the Palmetto State’s first congressional district is preparing to run radio and television promoting the fiscal conservative as a write-in candidate in the general election.

You read that right … in the general election. As in against former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford.

“We’ll be launching a campaign to urge voters to write in State Senator Larry Grooms, the proven, consistent career conservative who already expressed interest in this seat earlier in the race,” said Ryan Gill of the Conservative Campaign Committee. “Since a write-in campaign is a steeper mountain to climb, we plan an even broader effort than we mounted in the primary, and we plan an even larger budget.”

Gill didn’t specify the size of that budget, although he indicated new radio and television ads were already in production.

“We don’t have to settle for the lesser of evils in this Special Election,” the text of one of these spots states. “Instead, write in Larry Grooms for Congress on May 7th.”

Wow …

Grooms did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment. Meanwhile sources close to his campaign declined comment.

This website endorsed Grooms’ primary bid – which came a few hundred votes short of qualifying for the GOP runoff, which was eventually won by former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford.

Until last week, Sanford appeared on the verge of pulling off a remarkable political comeback – but trespassing allegations made by his ex-wife Jenny Sanford (and the governor’s strategically questionable handling of the scandal) have thrown the race back into the Democratic column.

In fact earlier this week a new poll showed Democrat Elizabeth Colbert-Busch enjoying a nine-point advantage over Sanford.

Gill says the Conservative Campaign Committee had every intention of aligning itself behind Sanford following his runoff win – but now believes the governor’s self-inflicted wounds have fundamentally reshaped the dynamic of the race.

“After the primary and runoff, we had planned to line up behind the nominee but the constant distractions of Sanford’s personal behavior and the resulting shift in momentum to the liberal have eliminated supporting his candidacy as a viable option,” Gill said. “Naturally, we have no desire to split the conservative vote in a way that would benefit the liberal but in fact what has happened here is that Sanford has already split the majority constituency, the anti-Colbert Busch vote, into people who are able to stomach him as their candidate and people who aren’t.”

Grooms received 12 percent of the GOP primary vote on March 19 – roughly 500 points behind fiscal liberal Curtis Bostic, whom Sanford defeated handily in the GOP runoff on April 2.

Incidentally, sources tell FITS several Bostic supporters are planning on writing in his name in the general election.

Even if Grooms’ or Bostic’s write-in bid were to be successful, there’s no guarantee he would be able to hold office if elected. Why not? Because the South Carolina Republican Party makes its candidates sign a document pledging to neither seek nor accept the office in the event they are defeated in the GOP primary process.

But that’s obviously not the point … is it?

This is all about beating Mark Sanford …

In fact several Republicans have told FITS they would rather see a Democrat claim this seat for a few months (it’s up again in 2014) than see Sanford become entrenched there for years to come.

Pro-Grooms Write-In Ballot Ad (.mp3)

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