(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
My, my, the conservatives vote in a liar and a cheat. He lied to his staff and that filtered to the State of South Carolina. He lied to his wife and the people of SC expect him to NOT lie again...The Republicans (Conservatives) voted in someone they campaign against...I am a resident of SC and so ashamed the World will see our true morals as people. SC truly deserves being laughed at, and laughed at loudly!!! His cheating was a moral issue, his lying was more than just immoral, it shows his true character...Don't cry over spilt milk SC...You deserve what you vote for. This makes it even better as hopefully the whole of SC will vote for Elizabeth !!!
His ex-wife should come out now and air the man's dirty laundry – she's got a great chance for revenge here, if she chooses to take it.
Just goes to show the people of the South Carolina GOP are nothing but a bunch of liers. The cheating on his wife isn't the real problem because that is between him, his wife and God, but it is the bald face lies he told and the stealing of monies (used for his trips) that are the real issues. Once a lying theif, always a lying thief. Great job South Carolina, way to do you state proud.
Nothing like the Pubs, is there???
SC has highest rate of poverty ... They didn't have a democrat for more then 40 years....
If Clinton can come back from his shenanigans...i guess anyone can
Whatever happened to the GOP being the party for a family? JC, I guess it's okay when they are Republican, huh? You and your ilk are pathetic... you cry fowl when it's on the left, but you prop the man right back up if he is on the right... no wonder the right is the party of losers...
The affair he had with the other woman is not the main issue. The real issue is the way he covered it up and abandoned the state government left the country to meet that woman. This is really a serious judgement issue and lack of integrity. If he cannot put the people of SC first then, how could the people in SC trust him to do the right thing now.
Only in America can a governor who abandoned his office, thefore abandoned his state and people, and could not be found for a week can be re-elected. His affair is his own business and has no bearing on this. How STUPID are people in SC???
Great now he can run again on Family values and stuff like that .. LOL
More the pity of what politics has become in this country.
Sanford is awesome..I hike with him on the App TRail..hes a good hiker...
This is great! I can't wait until he walks his Argentine bimbo out on the podium when he takes the oath of office! And I want to see the look on his ex-wife's face in the audience. Then, I want to listen closely to him speaking on Republican "family values". Now, that's entertainment. If you like nasty reality TV, that is.
Ah, the party of Family Values...when it is convenient.
His re-election consultant was Marion Barry.
Let me ask a fair question:
Was he iin fact that great a Governor, personal moral and ethics aside? Or is this just the defIniton of insanity?
Who in SC voted for Sanford. Stoopid is as Stoopid does
i am amazed people vote for him
Another great "family values" republican.
And we wonder why our country is so messed up when we, the voters continue to elect people like Mark Sanford. We have only ourselves to blame for the mess in Washington.
Cheated on his wife and lied to the voters? Now this guy wants his adulterous mistress to be the first lady of SC?
This guy has NO scruples. Zero, none-zip-nada. Negatoooory. Zilch!
Most of these posts make reference to Mr. Sanford's infidelity. While I do not approve of it, it is not my business. What should be of concern to his constituents is the fact that he disappeared from the State for days and lied about it. He was AWOL with no one able to get in touch with him. This showed a total lack of concern for his State. And that is why I don't think he should be elected again!
He seeks redemtion by applying for another government job? I can only hope that South Carolina voters redeem themselves by voting for Elizabeth Colbert Busch by a 100 to 1 margin in the general election for that seat.
I won't hold my breath.
Fortunately, no democrat has ever done that or there would be twice as many posts.
my my my the HYPOCRISY of "family values" just keeps on keepin on