(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
This is a disgrace and proof that crime pays bigtime. Also a good example why our Government in Washington is corrup beyond repairt. How can honest people vote for a guy who lied and lied and lied all the way, who disgraced his entire family? This is proof of the "gangster mentality" which is prevelant in the USA. Only a stupid people will re-elect a criminal and that in a State who claims to be " Bible Belt " religious ? It shows once again, how our Nation is without hope of better times when characters like this guy are voted into Government positions.
But the true family values, candidate, Obama; stable marriage, two children, not a hint of infidelity or the repubs would have blown that apart already, is called Satan down there, and a piece of human fecal matter like Mark Sanford is forgiven. Hypocrisy rules down south especially in the reddest of red states. Hey wait a minute, isn't red the color of the devil. Well S.C., you're proud to be the reddest
good, if he wins he can lecture us on family values
Thats why mark an others senators talking what the people wants to hear, they running for the seats in the white house.
Sanford is a lying liberal with an R next to his name.
Forgive Mark as we forgave Teddy Kennedy who went on to become the "Lion of the Senate."
Forgive Mark as we forgave Bill Clinton who made around $80 million in speaking fees since leaving office.
Forgive Mark as we forgave the Reverend Doctor Jesse Jackson who is still preaching the Gospel.
It is time to forgive Mark Sanford as we have forgiven so many others. Open up your heart and let the love in.
Should the people of SC elect Sanford back in office, they get what they deserve.
South Carolina repubs would elect lipstick on a pig as long as they are forgiven.
Only in South Carolina. Too many there are crazier than a bowl of Fruit Loops.
How sad, and the people often wonder why they have no representation in Government. Why we have to only choose between two parties? Why can't an non party person win? Because the two parties have made the laws that protect their monopoly on our Government. The voters need to wake up and stop voting for the continued corruption that the Two major parties represent.
You get what you vote for. The party of family values.
Always good to see the "principled conservatives" supporting yet another soulless hypocrite.
This party and its supporters have zero values and morals.its all about who will allow them to continue to rape America for their own selfish gain.They'd choose bin Laden if he ran with an (R) after his name.
Isn't that amazing? People down South do love their sinners.
This guy is just plain bad for our nation , for Women , Gays , Latinos , African Americans ,the middleclass
Young people , Old People . This is the NEW High Standerds of the G.O.P. The ( Grand Old Problem ) !!!!
...How no snowflake is exactly the same as another.
...How no two fingerprints are the same.
...Why the hell South Carolina would re-elect Sanford to anything.
Inexplicable things in life.
Good for him. No one, including politicians, are perfect. He followed his heart and is now doing the right thing. As a Democrat, I find Sanford the most appealing Republican politician around.
There are two ways to look at this...everyone deserves a second chance. In American society for politicians and sports figures – their gaffes are soon forgiven and forgotten.
Just goes to show that if you mention GOD enough times there is a segment of society that is going to fall for you hook line and sinker..
You get what you vote for....Republican style family values.
The GoP's moral code is once again showing.
Once again, that Great Born Again eraser mantra of "The Devil Made Me Do it," has worked for another slick politician. Don't people realize that "Flip" Wilson was just making a joke?
Concerning Republicans in the 1st District of South Carolina – Stupid is as Stupid does.
Great, americans reward politicians who preach ethics, while breaking the same ethical preachings, by re electing them. Well, it's not the politicians to blame, but those voting for them in the first place. People elect the losers (or winners) they deserve. SC you deserve this guy...good for you....