Longtime North Carolina Democratic guru Gary Pearce doesn’t designate it as such, but one could label as Pearce’s Law this observation offered during the 2008 election campaign: “”liberals (or progressives or whatever you prefer) have to understand that your candidates don’t have the luxury of the right-wingers: They can’t always say exactly what they believe — and still get elected.”

That bit of electoral wisdom came to mind as I read TIME magazine’s description of Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch’s efforts to defeat Republican Mark Sanford in a high-profile South Carolina congressional race.

It may be her first time running for anything, but Colbert Busch is running a solid campaign. She truly enjoys shaking hands, making small talk and saying one of four things: “get our fiscal house in order,” “cut waste,” “I’ve been a businesswoman for 25 years” or “I’ve got a lot of brothers and sisters, and I’m proud of all of them.” She takes down the phone numbers of kids who are into math and science and, after a day of fundraising calls, will call a few and ask if they’ve done their homework. She agreed to only one debate, on April 29, in which she talked a lot about the importance of dredging the port of Charleston. She can’t say much because even a phrase like “I work connecting alternative energy to the university I work at” contains two words that won’t go over well in a district that hasn’t been represented by a Democrat since 1981. And especially not in a special election, which typically has low turnout, and low turnout is never good for Democrats. So she’s issued statements about how Obama’s budget and the assault-weapons ban suck. She’s deleted tweets supporting gay marriage and abortion rights. She’s had brother Stephen do some fundraisers, but it’s likely that she doesn’t mention him too much because many of the district’s voters think he’s too left-wing.

There’s no word on whether Colbert Busch discusses whether she would vote to return Nancy Pelosi to the House speaker’s chair, or how often she would vote to support President Obama’s initiatives.