(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
Good for him. He screwed up; took his lumps, faded away and now he is back. Good human story, republican or democratic
Cut spending and creat jobs? That's not what the GOP does. They cut tax revenues creating spending problems that lead to job losses across the board. GOP doesn't care about jobs they care about making rich folk richer. So it's not surprising South Carolina has job creation problems when they embrace moral leadership such as this.
However, besides idle curiosity as this pecuiar behaviour I couldn't give a good gosh darn what these willfully ignorant folks bring on themselves by re-electing someone that's screwed them in the past.
Most disgusting is that he is using folks' faith for votes. Ah, well. Back to the "God's Choice" meme and the Christian Mingle ads. Some people will buy into anything. Including God picking their candidates. Or something. It still doesn't take away from the fact that his man is bad news.
Enjoy your free time!
From my perspective as a Carolina voter, the issue was not so much that of infidelity, as I recall, but, rather, that of the sitting governor having fallen off the face of the earth
Who cares about his personal life!
Time to learn from the French, as always they are ahead of us.
We need to stop being so stupid.
Is the Applalacian Trail in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District? If they elect him, they can't say that they did not know what they were getting.
"Sanford has made a successful career for himself operating on the belief that the people of South Carolina are not very intelligent"
And by the results i'ts axiomatic that he's correct
Another exemplary example of Republican family values!
Well what a know!.....A republican with the class of a democrat!......
Good for him.
More proof that people put their party first. You know I could care less about his personal life. But people that use the so called moral card are hypocrites I think in this instance. If you live by the bible is sin not sin? You fight gay marriage using the bible as reason. Yet here you vote for a adulterer, and that is something that just isn't in the bible it's one of the ten commandments. Again I don't judge this man for his actions, I'm not religious. But if you are, how do you justify your actions voting for him?
Maybe they can release Bernie Madoff and he to can run for a seat! Only in America!
Well, republicans are consistent if nothing else. They may wield the moral stick at will against anyone they want, but, when it comes to holding a seat, they will gladly keep a blind eye. I guess the moral rules don't apply to republicans, but, we already knew all that.
Only in the South...
Just love the gop = the party of "family" values, "Christian" values -
Just goes to show how blindly obedient the Republicans in SC are ... anything a Republican does is okay with them.
Why would anybody elect a man like him? I have voted democratic all through my adult life, but had respect for family values the Republicans hold dear, at least some of them. A man who broke the trust of his wife and children in such a fashion should not be allowed to serve in public office. This is my strong opinion.
He supports the gay!
The man's personal life is his own business, but he did use state money to visit his mistress and left the state apparently w/o telling anyone. Most people would be fired from their jobs for this and unable to return.
Once more the sane South Carolinians moan in shame and embarrassment!
@ Amy–Most don't care about his personal life (except for Evangelicals, and this makes the ones who support him now hypocits). What most DO care about (and should care about) is that he went AWOL while still in office, and lied about it (for the benefit of said Evangelicals).
We all have human foibles and frailties. Just don't steal from me or my fellow citizens, and spend our tax dollars in the interest of ALL your constituents.
God forgives? Only because Self-righteous humans like Sanford tell him to!
Sad. He only wants to be elected because it's a free ride and he gets all the DC perks and stuff. And it's the GOP that screams about regular people being 'takers'. What a hoot
'SHAMED'is the best way to describe former Gov. Sanford? Is it because those of you behing computer keyboards are perfect and never sinned? Did he pay his dues by losing his marriage? Yes. The voters still have faith in him so lay off CNN !
LOL – This is funny! Once again and over and over we find the party of family and morality cannot escape themselves.