Stephen Colbert's sister, Ted Turner's son just a few candidates in colorful S.C. election

Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, comedian Stephen Colbert's sister, said she plans to run for South Carolina's open Congressional seat.
Courtesy Clemson University

(CBS News) One of the wildest political races in the country is taking place in South Carolina. That's where a congressional campaign is bringing out a rich cast of characters.

South Carolina is known for its politics, but this race may top them all. It's a free-for-all election filled with a colorful, controversial cast of 18 candidates, and they're all slugging it out for the state's one congressional seat.

On the Republican side: two stand out. There's the political novice in high school economics teacher Teddy Turner, He's the son, you guessed it -- of eccentric media mogul Ted Turner. Teddy Turner said of his father, "He's a pretty big liberal these days. But you know it shouldn't hurt you, but it does because people won't let me escape it."

And then there's the establishment candidate: disgraced former Gov. Mark Sanford, seeking redemption. Sanford has said, "I've never really failed in life, in something of significance. And boy, I made up for lost time. I failed mightily."

Sanford is a front-runner despite his public admission of an affair which prompted his wife to leave the governor's mansion with their four sons and divorce him. He consulted each of them before deciding to run for the seat he once held. Referring to his family, he said, "They said, 'No dad, you've got to do it. Here's a chance for you to try and make a difference and you ought to.' So here I am."

But the other candidates aren't as forgiving -- like Turner, who used to work for the media company his father founded and sounds as almost outspoken. Turner told CBS News, "I have no problem with him being unfaithful. That's between his ex-wife and the good Lord. What he did do was abandon the state. What he did do was become the highest fined politician in South Carolina history."

On the Democratic side: one candidate brings her own unique star power. Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the older sister of television comedian Stephen Colbert, who's her loudest cheerleader and fundraiser.

In a video made by Colbert, he jokes, "As a broadcast journalist, I am obligated to maintain objectivity. It doesn't matter that my sister is intelligent, hardworking, compassionate, and dedicated to the people of South Carolina."

A single mother of three and a businesswoman, Colbert Busch now works for Clemson University. And like Sanford, knows struggle. Busch said, "When I was a young girl, I lost my father and two brothers, and it was a very deep sudden loss in a plane crash. But when I came home, I saw the most powerful, wonderful courageous woman: my mother. Even your struggles become a blessing. This is what my mother taught me. Keep one foot in front of the other."

As for Sanford, he asked his ex-wife Jenny to run his campaign. She declined, but Sanford told CBS News' Jan Crawford that everything he went through has made him a more humble, compassionate person. He says that's going to make him a better lawmaker if he's elected. Sanford is expected to face a Republican runoff in April. The Republican and Democrat will then face off in May.

For Jan Crawford's full report, watch the video in the player above.