April 2nd, 2013
09:31 PM ET
2 years ago

Mark Sanford, former South Carolina governor, wins GOP nomination for House seat

(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


Filed under: Mark Sanford • South Carolina
soundoff (408 Responses)
  1. hypohypohypos

    Yah, another win for pure, wholesome dog_forgiven religious hypocrite!

    April 3, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    bill clinton set a precedent in politics, didn't he?

    April 3, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  3. ScottM

    After his affair was revealed in June 2009, Sanford first claimed, "There's been a lot of speculation and innuendo on whether or not public moneys were used to advance my admitted unfaithfulness. To be very clear: no public money was ever used in connection with this." After a reporter used the Freedom of Information Act to seek records of what public funds were used to pay for Sanford's trip to Argentina, Sanford eventually chose to reimburse taxpayers for expenses he had incurred one year earlier with his mistress in Argentina. He said, "I made a mistake while I was there in meeting with the woman who I was unfaithful to my wife with. That has raised some very legitimate concerns and questions, and as such I am going to reimburse the state for the full cost of the Argentina leg of this trip.” On August 9, 2009, the AP reported that Sanford may have violated state law by other abusive use of state planes, including to fly to get a haircut.

    April 3, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. Jeff in Cincy

    Talking about hypocrasy... Does the press ever say "Shamed ex-president" when referring to Clinton?? I'm pretty sure he had an "extra-marital affair" right in the oval office....

    April 3, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. Kathy G

    It is amazing how the family values party wants those values enforced on all but their own. I believe in forgiveness as a Christian, but not then allowing the same person to have the opportunity to do a repeat. If my dog were republican the GOP would probably be willing to nominate him for office.
    Go Louie dog!

    April 3, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  6. DRTSAT

    I think it's funny how some people point out Sanford's failing. Clinton failed with Monica. Kennedy failed with women, probably too many to count. GW had his failings (unnecessary war) as did his dad (read my lips....). BO has his failings (Bill Ayers or Jerimiah Wright). People seem to be very forgiving of the politicians in their party as long as they "toe the party line" but they are lesss forgiving of the other party's person. All politicians (Democrat, Republican and Independent) are liars and cheats. The degree to which they are (liars, cheats or failures) is determined when they are discovered. In the end we are stuck with a choice of the lesser of two evils.

    April 3, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  7. EricS

    This is not redemotion. If he wants that, how about living a qiuetly decent life from here on in without the craving for the limelight? This is self-aggrandizement

    April 3, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  8. J. Smith

    IIs that his ex-wife standing to the left of his girlfriend in the photo?

    April 3, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  9. miamivice

    Just goes to show, how we, the electorate, are so stupid.

    April 3, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  10. joe_republican

    How embarrassing can you get SC? Really, this guy is a complete joke as a human being. Shame on all of you.

    April 3, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. apstar

    I guess the GOP hasn't anything better to offer voters. Sad.

    April 3, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  12. chicadow

    Please oh please, lose to Colbert's sister. Then Elizabeth, resign and let Stephen take over. He would be president after the next election. (Okay, I'm dreaming, but humor me.)

    April 3, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  13. ed dugan

    If you set the stupid religious arguments aside, since they have nothing to do with this issue, why shouldn't he run. I don't vote for politicians because I think they are different from a majority of the population and do not stray in their marriages. Personally I don't give a damn who strays and who doesn't as long at they get the job done. That aside, he has great taste in women!

    April 3, 2013 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  14. John

    Two words to the giggling libs: Bill Clinton.

    April 3, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Isn't that his ex-wife standing next to his fiancee? How weird.

    April 3, 2013 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  16. maine3000

    SC continues to be the laughing stock of the US. Makes me ashamed to live in this state and can't wait to get out of the hypocritical "bible belt".

    April 3, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. apstar

    @ed dugan: I agree with you that the morality part doesn't need to be part of whether or not a politician is good at his real job, but to lie abut it and cheat taxpayers out of funds and try to cover it all up makes it a matter of credibility as well as a potential legal issue. That all aside, I bet the trip to Argentina was a blast!

    April 3, 2013 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  18. bigfoot

    This just shows you what hypocrites reside in South Carolina, the home of my ancestors.

    April 3, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  19. Phaerisee

    We all fall short of the mark and we all deserve a second chance. Jesus didn't come for the perfect people... he came for the people who would listen with their hearts. Most of those people were broken.

    April 3, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. yogi

    Winning against another Republican is easy, running on the trail against Colbert Bush will require way more character and strength. The most painful thing in that race will be to have to hear the name Bush over and over again, but then when republicans in SC see her name on the ballot they will think she is a relative of the B... family, and they will vote for her!

    April 3, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. Kenneth Newman

    South Carolina, still fighting the Civil War and being the home of Repugilcan democracy. People who vote for Sanford are as knuckleheaded as they come.

    April 3, 2013 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. Boisepoet

    For all those talking about Bill Clinton, at least he never ran for office again after his infidelities were discovered.
    Additionally, the Democratic party is not the one pretending to be the party of morality.

    April 3, 2013 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  23. ARMYCSM

    One word: Vomit

    April 3, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. Parizad Karnik

    Its a crying shame that someone who has a history of being able to lie, cheat decieve and hurt others without showing any true remorse can even have the narcissism enough to re stand for public office!!!
    Character matters and I hope that the kind people of this country do not get manipulated into thinking that individuals are capable of "Changing" their true charecter. I am a true democrat, but am very concerned about the social fabric oof our nation being ruined by the likes of Sanford.

    April 3, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  25. annebeth66

    If this is the best that SC Repubs have to offer, then I see why they are the laughingstock of the US. Sanford has the nerve to trot out his mistress, now fiancee Maria Belen Chapur and talk about forgiveness. What a joke. I guess Chapur is well on her way to a green card, so she can stay in the US.

    April 3, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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