(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
Liberals are being pretty hard on this guy. Why? He cheated, yes.....but he is engaged to the woman. Clinton did it in the Oval Office and is considered a great ex-president, yet he never intended on making an honest woman out of Monica. Colbert can make it about integrity all she wants, but I highly doubt that attacking a guys fiancé is going to work.
Says a lot about those who promoted him and voted for him1
I don't like this guys policies at all. However, should your political career be over because you cheat on your wife? How many guys out there have done the same OR continue to have close friends that they don't shun after they did it. Holding politicians to some unrealistic standard is hypocritical.
goes to show you that the GOP family values only matter when they are talking about Democrats.
Adultery is acceptable to republicans, but if this guy was gay he would have been rejected.
Words I never thought I would say, Please God, Let Busch Win.
How long before he cheats on his fiancee? You know the saying – once a cheater....
Arrogant politicians. All of them. Their ego erase morality, judgement, conscience, common sense.
No wonder Congress has such a low rating. They deserve it. The score for infidelity is Republicans 6.
Democrats 11. Oh yes. It may even be higher.
Ain't democracy grand!
I really don't care for this guy but where's the headlines like this when it was Weiner & Spitzer in NYC and Bill Clinton?
I don't seem to recall those headlines.
CNN you have to do better TRYING to be objective
I lived in South Carolina for 10 years and that state needs a political awakening. There are too few good jobs in the state, the governance is good ol boy rigged and they rank among the lowest in meeting the basic needs of their citizens. The best move I ever made was moving beyond the reach their "fiscal discipline".
Jc – he didn't just cheat on his wife, he lied, including to his office and staff about where he was. He lied to the people of SC – the piece doesn't say anything about who paid for his trips to South America, himself or the taxpayers of SC.
South Carolina wake up.
This surprises anyone, especially from North or South Carolina? We know about just one thing he lied about. It's probably miniscule, compared to kickbacks, etc. The voters will continue getting what they pay for, with this guy. What a bunch of idiots.
Ahh the hypocrisy of the religious fundamentalists...multiple divorces, cheating, lies, the standard family values GOPer
Nice try JC with the "but Clinton did it" argument. Show of hands on who thinks JC's reaction to what he now claims is the same thing was completly 100% the exact opposite.
Jc: He cheated, yes, and he lied to cover up, yes and now he promises not to cheat or lie, and YOU BELIEVE HIM? I have a bridge I'd like to sell you. I'll swear on the Bible, just like Fred...err....Mark Sanford, too.
Apparently all a jerk has to do is say I have found redemptions, I love Jesus and all is forgiven?? really what stupid people in SC. The issue was not the affair which is bad enough. He disappeared while in office and then lied about it and they reelect him to another job....there is a reson we call people from the south low brow.
Americans have no baseline for their representatives. None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. No wonder the nation is swirling in a toilet bowl.
I'm a conservative and even I am just bewildered by this.
Ignorance begets ignorance! Turn the House in 2014!
Clinton had a moment of weakness and lied when he was caught up in it. Sanford had a full-blown affair, went to South America while on the taxpayer's time, created a whole lie scenario about being hiking on the Appalachian Trail to cover his being AWO from his job as Governor, left his wife for another woman, turned the world upside down because he couldn't control his lust. All while preaching that he was a politician with virtue that you can trust. No comparison.
This is why I can't bring myself to vote for Republicans. In almost every primary they nominate the worst possible person for the job. Now South Carolina has this scumbag on the ballot who not only abandoned his wife but also his job as governor. I can't wait until he starts preaching about moral fiber on the campaign trail
Liberal should be a little nervous come 2014.
Some people preach about values and morals, and some people actually have them.