(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
Saying you're sorry is not enough. While I believe in redemption, it does not mean a human being who cheated on his wife, (and how do we know if he was doing it once he wasn't doing it with others), and then lying to the people who elected him, and lying to the media who are doing their job for the public,...he is just what WE DON'T NEED right now in public office. Ideology should not be more important to voters than trust, morality, thoughtfulness and kindness. Sanford failed in ALL those ways with selfish, mean-spirited betrayal of vows and oaths to those who counted on him and loved him. Not what South Caroline needs, not what America needs.
It will be nice to see this guy take his hypocrite oath of office.
Yet another in a long line of disgraceful GOP embarrassments from the party of "Core family values."
The GOP is the party of cheap, ignorant, self-serving, old white men buffoons.
If only more politicians had affairs. People getting bent out of shape for nothing.
What he did was wrong. But I suspect many of these people saying " how can we trust him?" were silent when Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy were doing the same thing to their wives. Let's clean up both sides.
SC is such an embarrassment. I can see politicians trying to get back into the limelight, much like CEO's getting free rides because they golf with the board of directors, but the voters are the real suspects here, how ignorant can they possibly be...
This country will never change. Not in my lifetime anyway. Make sure you tell your children what this guy did to his family. He's one heck of a role model.
When a party runs on a moral high ground then you have to walk the walk. Sanford made his private life public when he got off a plane and told reporters that he was having an affair and that the mistress was his soul-mate, humiliating his wife and children in a public forum. Now his mistress (aka fiance) stands beside him as he makes his re-election bid. If that is all that the GOP has to offer, then no thank you! I will say thanks for the wake-up call because never again will I support a party. There are good people on both sides and I will be selecting them based on individual track records. Spare me the "everyone makes mistake" speech because forgiveness is vastly diffent from trust.
Sanford is right on money with GOP family values he only spent the tax payers money to build a family. Why do you liberals have problem with that!
Sanford led the charge on impeachment and called on Clinton to resign over his affair. Now that Sanford has divorced his wife and abandoned his family for his mistress, he says this experience will make him more qualified to serve the state of South Carolina.
How dumb does he think the people of South Carolina are?
Let me get this straight..... Liberals constantly preach love, yet there are many hateful posts from liberals. And they have the nerve to call Sanford a hypocrite? Wow.
Core values are all hiking the Appalachian trail.
No news here ... this is SC folks!
The only difference between him and the others...the others haven't gottn caught – yet.
He appears to be both happy and content, and a happy and content man will do a far better job than a sad and miserable one.
If only more politicians had affairs. People getting bent out of shape for nothing.
You overlook the most egregious behavior. The man went AWOL, which is treasonous. Don't you remember that he had lied about all of it? "I'm going hiking. See ya." The truth finally came out as the SC state police began winding up a massive manhunt in the mountains to search for him.
I would be shocked if Sanford does not win. Anyone who doubts he will just look at Florida and who is in the Governor`s Mansion. I think he will win!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And nobody is concern about an ex Gov. who as far as we know was giving Goverment information to a reporter from another country. And know as a Congressmen would be able to tell even more!!!
revolving door of corruption!
Now we know what Republicans are talking about when they talk about Christian family values. Like all of their other
positions, it's 'don't do as I do but do as I say'. Leadership to the Republicans is just control of the masses so they can
enjoy increased profits.
Only reason these politicians get a`second chance`is that no one else wants to go there.
This proves yet again how phoney these Southerners are with the family values BS they spew at the rest of us. This guy disappeared for a weekend, lied and cheated to his wife and the entire state, dereliction of duy, and now is back in. Just pathetic how in the South all that matters to those voters is how right wing you are. And you can be sure that those one party voters there will reject Colbert.
We don't belong in the same nation with the South anymore. I long and hope for an eventual split from that whole region.
If he was a liberal he would not have even left office. The liberal bar on morals is very low.
South Carolina just proves that Texas is not the dumbest afterall
Liar...check. Cheater...check. Looks like he meets the qualifications of a politician.