Part 1 of 2
If the only things you knew about Elizabeth Colbert Busch were from the national media, you would think her home would be filled with pictures of her more famous brother, Stephen. While there is little doubt that her home holds plenty of pictures of the host of The Colbert Report and the rest of her large family, her home in a firmly middle class section of Mount Pleasant is what one would expect of a successful professional, mother and wife.
Since she announced her run for Congress in January, Colbert Busch has received plenty of media attention, but the lion’s share of the media spotlight has been focused on the sprawling GOP primary with former Gov. Mark Sanford, Teddy Turner and 14 other Republicans. But after Tuesday, when either Sanford or Curtis Bostic will win the Republican nomination, the spotlight will be trained on her and will come with much more scrutiny.
While the scrutiny will be new for Colbert Busch, facing a challenge will not.
While in college, Colbert Busch lost her father and two of her brothers in a plane crash in Charlotte. Her mother’s reaction to the tragedy has influenced her to this day.
“She had just lost the love of her life and two of her children and I remember her saying to me, ‘Keep one foot in front of the other. Life is tough, but life is good.’”
Having that kind of influence helped Colbert Busch when her first marriage ended in divorce and she found herself raising three children alone.
When Colbert Busch talks about her mother the depth of feeling is apparent and emotion rises quickly to the surface.
“Everyone loves their mother, but when I realized how powerful she was, I knew how fortunate I was,” Colbert Busch said. “Not everyone has that kind of support.”
That is one of the reasons Colbert Busch said she’s running.
“There are so many other voices out there that aren’t being heard and I want to be their voice,” she said. “All the single mothers and fathers. All the people living from paycheck-to-paycheck.”
Colbert Busch eventually met her husband Claus Busch and built her own career, from the bottom up, to the point where she is now Director of Business Development at Clemson University’s Restoration Institute. She also is a grandmother of two.
It does not take much to remind her of the days when she woke up in the morning and her top priority was to make sure she had dinner ready for her kids.
“You realize you are an example for your children. You work hard and you get an education. But not everyone has that. If you have the strength of everyone around you, you can make it,” she said. “People truly do want to help each other.”
Despite the divisions in society which seem intractable at times, Colbert Busch believes people can still come together.
“There has been a lot of fear since 9/11. But you wake up one day and you decide you’re not going to be afraid anymore. You realize that the sky is not falling, we are not on the brink of something terrible. Yes, we have challenges, but we also have great opportunities. We have tremendous resources in our community and we need to elevate them.”
Before Colbert Busch decided to run for Congress she went to visit her mother and seek her counsel. Her mother, Lorna, is 92 now and she spoke to her in a way that only the more experienced among us can. Which is to say, she was direct.
‘My mother said, ‘Lulu (Colbert Busch’s nickname), have a clear path."
Tomorrow: Colbert Busch Talks Policy