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Source: Colbert to file for S.C. Democratic primary

  • Story Highlights
  • Filing for state GOP ballot too costly for Stephen Colbert, source says
  • South Carolina panel meets Thursday to decide which candidates meet criteria
  • Two requirements: Candidate must be viable nationally, campaign in state
  • Opponents argue that comedian makes a mockery of the political process
  • Next Article in Politics »
By Peter Hamby
CNN
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COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) -- Funnyman Stephen Colbert's presidential campaign is apparently no joke.

The host of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" will file papers late Wednesday or early Thursday to put his name on South Carolina's Democratic primary ballot, a source familiar with the comedian's strategy said.

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Stephen Colbert, a South Carolina native, made two "campaign" stops in the Palmetto State last weekend.

The South Carolina native will not file papers as a Republican because the $35,000 required to get on the GOP ballot is apparently too high a threshold.

"They priced us out of range," the source told CNN.

The South Carolina Democratic Party demands a candidate pay $2,500 or garner 3,000 signatures to get on the ballot. Surrogates of "The Colbert Report" star will file the hand-signed papers at state party headquarters before the November 1 filing deadline.

The mock conservative pundit whose show regularly features real politicians and political commentators announced that he was running as both a Democrat and Republican on October 16.

But whether Colbert's name will show up on the ballot remains unclear.

The state party's 26-member executive council -- with representatives from each of South Carolina's six congressional districts as well as state members of the Democratic National Committee -- will meet Thursday afternoon to decide which candidates meet the criteria to appear on the ballot.

To make the cut, a candidate must demonstrate two requirements: that he or she is viable nationally and has spent time campaigning in the state.

Colbert made a "campaign" stop on Sunday in Columbia to receive a key to the city from Mayor Bob Coble, attracting about 1,000 people, mostly University of South Carolina students.

But Colbert's national viability is what's at issue before the executive council.

"He does not appear to be campaigning to win if he is only running in one state," said Carol Khare Fowler, chairwoman of the state Democratic Party and a member of the executive council.

Another council member, Charleston Democratic Party Chairman Waring Howe, was more blunt: "Over my dead body will Colbert's name be on the ballot."

Opponents such as Howe argue that Colbert makes a mockery of the political process. They also note that for each candidate on the Democratic ballot, the state party must pay $20,000 to the state election commission, a consideration that could blunt Colbert's chances.

Colbert's supporters on the executive council said that the comedian will bring new, younger voters into the party fold and that he will use his candidacy to promote South Carolina nightly on national television.

"I think a lot of people think it's a joke because it's a comedy show and what not, but he's a nice fellow, and if he gets on the ballot, he will come here to South Carolina and campaign across the state," said Charles Hamby, the second vice chairman of the state Democratic Party.

"We know he won't be president. He knows that. But it will bring a lot of people into the party," Hamby said.

On Sunday, Colbert had a private meeting with Joe Werner, executive director of the state Democratic Party, to discuss the implications of being on the ballot.

The source familiar with Colbert's strategy said he will use his satirical candidacy to promote his home state, as he did during the recent speech in Columbia in which he extolled the virtues of Palmetto State peaches over Georgia's.

Colbert is asking supporters to donate $100,000 to South Carolina schools at the Web site donorschoose.org, which already has raised $40,000. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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