By Eric Egan
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The race for South Carolina's open seat in Congress is now in the home stretch.
Numbers show Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch with a nearly double digit lead, but Mark Sanford could be closing in. Monday's debate only reinforced the star power among the candidates.
"This race has really been about the soap opera that is Mark Sanford and the soap opera that is Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, and her brother comedian Stephen Colbert," said Washington D.C.-based Politico reporter, Alex Isenstadt.
Many, like Isenstadt, have taken notice it's not the usual election with there being such heavy emphasis on the personal issues. The issues haven't been ignored, perhaps just dropped to second billing.
Isenstadt said that's hard to handle for one of the candidates.
"He (Sanford) believes the press has not done a good job talking about and covering issue," Isenstadt said. "He thinks the race has really been about his personal life. She (Colbert Busch) is trying to play that up and we're going to find out Tuesday if that's an advantage or not."
The former governor's image took another hit as he fell nearly 10 points behind Colbert Busch in late April. Sanford's had to be on damage control ever since, but his campaign got a boost Wednesday by an endorsement from U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham.
Likewise, Senator Tim Scott issued a statement saying Sanford's candidacy "merits support."
"He (Sanford) has been saying look, I've learned from my mistakes and I'm going to come to Washington and be a more humble politician after learning from those mistakes," said Isenstadt.
Colbert Busch could stop Sanford from winning his second chance. For now the polls say she's the new favorite, though the margins will get tighter.
"No one really quite thinks that this race is really nine or 10 points apart. They think the race is somewhat closer," Isenstadt said. "But there's no question in anyone's mind that Elizabeth Colbert Busch heads into the final week of this race with the lead."
More recent independent polling from both parties shows Colbert Busch with a two to four point lead.