GOP Shows Surprising Grit Ahead of Special, Gov., General Senate Elections

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(Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)Former South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford.

On the eve of a special election to determine the next representative of South Carolina's First Congressional District, embattled ex-governor of the state Republican Mark Sanford, has been showing plucky resilience at the polls with a one point lead over Democratic challenger Elizabeth Colbert Busch. And he isn't the only GOP candidate showing grit in the polls.

Republican Gabriel Gomez is gunning to pull an upset in the upcoming Massachusetts U.S. Senate special election on June 25 and Virginia Attorney General Republican Ken Cuccinelli II holds an early lead over Democrat businessman Terry McAuliffe in that state's governor's race scheduled for November.

Despite Colbert Busch hammering the ex-governor on his drama-filled personal life, the latest and final poll conducted by Public Policy Polling shows Sanford erasing a nine point, 50-41 percent lead held by Colbert Busch two weeks ago. It was also revealed on the weekend, that Colbert Busch had a little personal drama of her own in 1988 when she was jailed on contempt of court charges during a "messy divorce."

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(PHOTO: gomezforma)Gabriel Gomez

According to PPP, with a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent, the battle for the First Congressional District seat is now a statistical dead heat "that's too close to call." Sanford leads Colbert Busch 47 to 46 percent heading into the special election on Tuesday.

While Sanford still remains somewhat unpopular, he got back into the race by nationalizing the elections and casting Colbert Busch as a liberal, according to PPP. Voters participating in the poll now feel Colbert Busch is too liberal while some 48 percent believe Sanford's views are "about right" on the issues. Just 38 percent of them thought he was too conservative.

"The special election in South Carolina couldn't be much closer," Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling said in a release. "At this point it's just a question of whether voters are more put off by Mark Sanford or the Democrats in Washington."

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(Photo: Cuccinelli

In another PPP poll, Republican Gabriel Gomez is only down by four points to Democrat Ed Markey in the first forecast of the upcoming Massachusetts U.S. Senate special election on June 25.

Despite Massachusetts being a very blue state, Markey only leads Gomez 44 to 40 percent among likely voters. Gomez is a "pretty popular candidate" with a 41 percent favorability rating, according to PPP.

Despite his underdog status in the race, some political pundits think Gomez can pull off the upset.

"I think he's the underdog, but it's not out of the realm of possibility that he could defeat Markey," said Tufts political science professor Jeffrey Berry in a recent ABC News report. "He's an attractive candidate with a winning personal story. He's had success in the military and business worlds … His greatest weakness is that he's a Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic state."

The son of Colombian immigrants, Gomez, 47, speaks fluent Spanish. He is also a former Navy pilot, SEAL and has an MBA from Harvard. He gained financial success as a private equity entrepreneur.

Virginia Attorney General Republican Ken Cuccinelli II also holds an early lead over Democrat businessman Terry McAuliffe in that state's governor's race, according to a Washington Post poll.

Although voters won't go to the polls until the next six months in November, Cuccinelli leads McAuliffe 46 to 41 percent among all voters and 51 to 41 percent among those who say they are sure to cast ballots.

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