(CNN) – Mark Sanford overcame the latest hurdle in his South Carolina political redemption tour, ending Tuesday night with a concession from his opponent in the GOP primary runoff for a U.S. House seat.
Results showed the former South Carolina governor had 57% of the vote, compared with 43% held by former Charleston City Councilman Curtis Bostic. That was a difference of about 6,000 votes out of about 45,000 cast.
Jake Tapper interviews Mark Sanford Wednesday on "The Lead" - 4 p.m. ET, only on CNN.
Sanford said he was “humbled” and “thankful” for the win, calling his competitor “a gentleman.”
His fiancee, Maria Belen Chapur, made a rare public appearance, standing at his side Tuesday evening. Revelations about his extramarital affair with her in 2009 led many observers to conclude his political career was over.
“I congratulate the governor on his race,” Bostic told supporters after conceding. “I want to be the first to say, ‘Congratulations, campaign well-run, we wish you the very, very best.’ ”
Sanford now goes on to the May 7 special election against Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch.
In a statement Tuesday night, she said she looked forward to a “vigorous campaign” and said the heavily Republican district needs “a voice in Washington who stands up for South Carolina solutions – not either political party.”
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden wrote in a statement that “South Carolina families clearly deserve a continuation of the strong fiscal discipline displayed by now-Senator Tim Scott and will greatly benefit from Sanford’s fiscal hawk approach. Without a doubt, Mark Sanford will campaign tirelessly to grow South Carolina jobs and work to get our nation’s massive spending problem under control.”
Sanford's past infidelity is front and center in battle for the state's 1st Congressional District, which he represented from 1995 to 2001 before being elected the Palmetto State's governor for two terms.
In his victory speech Tuesday night, Sanford thanked voters, saying that while God forgives, “sometimes the voters aren’t so forgiving.”
Bostic claimed in Thursday's debate that Sanford was a "compromised candidate" because of his extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina. The affair came to light in 2009, sinking any hopes Sanford had of making a bid for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012.
"Trust is a crucial issue,” he said. “In fact, it has become a crucial issue in this race."
Sanford and his then-wife, Jenny, were divorced in 2010, and Sanford finished his second term as governor in January 2011. He's now engaged to the woman with whom he had the affair.
Sanford, who's touting his fiscal conservative credentials as he campaigns for Congress, is also asking the public for a second chance, telling CNN that he was seeking "redemption" by running for office again. He came in first in a 16-candidate primary two weeks ago but finished with 37% of the vote, far short of the 50% needed to avoid a runoff. But he was far ahead of Bostic, who narrowly edged out state Sen. Larry Grooms to finish second with 13%.
Sanford said his first-place finish was "incredibly humbling."
"The events of 2009 absolutely represent a failure on my part, for which there were and probably always will be consequences," added Sanford. "But that does not mean, because you have had failure in your personal life, that you cannot step back into life again."
But Bostic, who had won the support of some top social conservative leaders, disagreed, arguing that the congressional seat - which has been held by the GOP since 1981 - would become vulnerable if Sanford became the Republican nominee.
"A compromised candidate is not what we need. It's just not what we need. We need to secure this seat. It needs to be red," Bostic said, citing surveys that indicated that Colbert Busch was leading Sanford.
But Bostic did not repeat his criticism of Sanford's infidelity at their second debate last weekend.
Colbert Busch is the sister of Stephen Colbert, the satirist and host of "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central. He's campaigned on his sister's behalf, recently telling Jake Tapper, CNN’s chief Washington correspondent and anchor of CNN's The Lead, that "she's my sister, and I'm willing to, you know, break the jewel of my own creation to try to do something for her."
Colbert Busch, an official with Clemson University's wind turbine drive testing facility, is expected to have an uphill climb in the general election because the district is heavily Republican.
GOP Rep. Tim Scott won re-election to the seat by 27 percentage points in last November's election. But when Republican U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina stepped down from his seat late last year to take over as the head of the conservative Heritage Foundation, GOP Gov. Nikki Haley named Scott to fill the seat, triggering the special election to fill his seat.
– CNN’s Steve Brusk and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report
What is wrong with peoples judgment? This guy is a fraud and phony.
Sanford is a total loser.
Abandoned his post for almost a week.
Spent state funds on he and his mistress in South America.
WAY TO FIGHT BACK. Those who are making the same mistakes you did are the biggest voice against you–you know, like jesse jackson,etc.
This would work out well for him. The DC area is at the top end of the Appalachian Trail and SC is near the bottom. That way if he decides to hike the Appalachian Trail again, hopefully he would get lost and wind up in South America.....
On TRAIL for comeback....LOL
You people that voted for him , deserve what u get.
Can't wait to see him hike that Appalachian Trail again! What is it in the water in South Carolina that causes the obviously swimmy-headed voters to put such absolute beauties as Sanford, Linseed "Bill Gates Owns Me" Graham, and Ol' Strom "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" Thurmond in office year after year?
Sure, run a candidate that could run off on an ill-fated Appalachian hiking trip at the drop of a hat. Give him access to classified intelligence, too. No honeypot could ever turn this fellow's head.
The sad part is, you probably DON'T need to try any harder than this.
The GOP has no one better to put up for office than an adulterer?
South Carolina moral values on display. Republicans think Bill Clinton was a slime ball, but give this guy a primary election victory? God can forgive him, but dip the weenie where it doesn't belong and saying I'm sorry isn't enough to earn my vote.
What's the point of 'till death do us part'if its often ignored?
Mark Sanford: Poster child for core republican values of "integrity," "honesty," and "loyalty."
Sanford has done really well in life operating on the belief that the people of South Carolina aren't very intelligent.
amazing. south carolina people....wow.
Let us join our hands in prayer and ask for forgiveness for the marital infidelities of Mark Sanford, Newt Gingrich, and Bob Packwood. However, that Bill Clinton should never be forgiven.
I hope people give him a chance to prove himself and not use the past as a weapon.
What a surprise from a state that preaches values (at least for everyone BUT republicans) but renomiated this guy. I can't wait to hear the howling from the tightie righties if Eliot Spitzer or Anthony Weiner rerun
Another good "FAMILY VALUE" GOP politician. Where do they keep finding them?
This ranks right up there with Florida electing as Rick Scott governor after his company, Columbia Hospital Corporation, was convicted of defrauding Medicare (that's OUR tax dollars, folks) and paying $600 million in fines – the largest fraud settlement in U.S. history.
What is it with these Republican voters? Are they naive, dumb or both?
This guy is a MAJOR phony, and South Carolinians prove once again how gullible they are. You want a political seat in South Carolina and other Bible Belt states, no matter how dodgy your character is? Say "Praise Jesus" a few times, talk about what a good Christian you are, and PRESTO!, you're elected. And when the spotlights are turned off, you go right back to behaving like the thoroughly dishonest politician Sanford proved he was...and still is.
Once again, the American voting public proves that they deserve what the get.
No surprise. Republicans love Commandment breakers, especially those who "use" God's word to excuse their indecent behavior.
Mark Sanford winner: because after all, he's the republican brand of a Christian.
another trickle down repub is set to take congress. all these folks want to do is cut taxes and watch our country decay. we need the dem to raise taxes and bring this country into the 21st century. the rich wouldn't mind, because all the money they give in taxes to fix this country, will cycle back to them. its called investment.this is why they love capitalism so much, because they cannot lose when they invest with higher taxes to fix our country, they are the ones that will benefit, while the middle class and the working class find work and grow.
He got caught, found Jesus, shed some tears and now all is forgotten... It's straight out of the Karl Rove Republican Handbook.