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. ObservantHistorian

    What I find most galling about this is that these Republicans and conservatives will quote the Bible to condemn homosexuality as a violation of God's law, but we know that most of them are guilty of violating injunctions against pre-marital and extra-marital "relations," as well as "self-abuse" and presumably the viewing of "graphic materials." But we all know, statistically, that most of them are guilty of one or more of these violations. Adultery violates a commandment....while being gay does not!! They cherrypick from their bible to attack others. It's not his affair that bothers me – Dems and Repubs alike are guilty – it's the outright unashamed hypocrisy of their endless self-righteous fingerpointing and Bible-thumping.

    April 3, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  2. Mark

    I am a bit divided on this one. On the hand it is tempting to throw mud at him, call him a typical conservative, and on goes the list BUT he did make the valid point ". "But that does not mean, because you have had failure in your personal life, that you cannot step back into life again"...the question from which is Was redemption always a big lie? Or are people just that nasty and judgmental – hard to tell.anymore. Or perhaps people should have a chance to get back up – just not in a position requiring trust.

    I am generally an in independent moderate, for me the partisan BS on either side is just discarded; so on this matter I am going reserve judgment. I am just not sure a 2nd chance should necessarily equate to pubic office.

    April 3, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  3. Smacky Smooth

    They deserve the "government" they get. She is really going to MARRY him? good luck keeping in his own yard, Honey. Remember how you got him. Really, dont care if he stooped every intern or chick in South America, just dont use TAXPAYER MONEY TO PAY FOR IT! Wow, nothing like watching the new fall of Rome up close and personal. Of course, I am soooooooooo perfect :)

    April 3, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  4. James PDX

    So when the GOP puts forth their best candidates, the cream of the crop is one who ran off on his job to cheat on his wife. Amazing.

    April 3, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  5. Huh?

    I wonder if it would turn out the same way if it was woman politician in this story?

    April 3, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  6. etesot Obe

    There are no consequences for infidelity and lies. Just do it. No shame. No loss of moral fibre.
    It is much an indictment for the man, his party, and those who voted for him. A very good example for the young people from a party of hypocrites....I mean the GOP.

    April 3, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  7. Snarky MacFee

    Is THIS how the GOP is going to rehab its image?!

    April 3, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  8. John

    Justy goes to show you what hypocrites they are in S.C.

    April 3, 2013 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  9. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    Only the gop party of stupid would continue to run these gop failures for office and think their going to win ,might as well run romney the five time Mormon loser for public official !!!!!

    April 3, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  10. Pat

    It's not the cheating. It's the lying he did to the people of his state. Says a lot about the people of this country. I shouldn't be surprised though. We re-elected "W" and he lied about the urgency of going to war in Iraq.

    April 3, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  11. brad

    It's true ObservantHistorian, religion is a study in hypocrisy. Anti abortion but pro war is my favorite. I would go on but it's a tired subject.

    April 3, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  12. Puddin

    There must be a lot of liars and cheats in S.C. People usually vote their own kind. And I seriously doubt his ex will be in the audience IF he takes the "oath" of office.

    April 3, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  13. Vince

    Another "family values" republican.

    April 3, 2013 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  14. scott

    The only ones in politics with family values are the Right? lol Seriously the left just slams the right on something like this. Just because we have higher standards dont worry about it, unless you have the same standards for yourself, for your politicians, for the Hollywood types that speak for your causes.. I will say that Sanford is free as a man to do what he wants. I wish he would have been a better husband. Ssince we gave Clinton pass after pass for his repeated offenses I think the same will go for Sanford. At least his did not commit perjury in a Court as President of the United States of America. Let it go on the left, politics is politics.

    April 3, 2013 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  15. Texas

    Glad they picked someone who can't be seduced for State secrets.

    April 3, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  16. chilly g

    me being a democraft i hope this make it more easy for the democraft to win the election

    April 3, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  17. Texas

    Yes! family values for all....and no new taxes....

    April 3, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  18. Carl

    Liberals remember; Forgiveness is an essential part of living the Christian life. Let's not put down Sanford until those among you are without sin. And remember your Savior, Bill Clinton, who himself was forgiven of his sins. Hillary too.

    April 3, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  19. scott

    Does there exist a family man – Democrat? or anyone on the left that supports family values. We are taking about no gay marriage, restrictions on Abortion, support of FAMILY VALUES No you guys dont have that. So when the left finally takes the Moral High ground , then they have the right to comment :)

    April 3, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  20. ST

    Wow! South Carolina are very expert in vetting people. You found some shortfalls in a person and still you make a tick. I admire you all.

    April 3, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    James PDX

    So when the GOP puts forth their best candidates, the cream of the crop is one who ran off on his job to cheat on his wife. Amazing.
    -----------–

    Sadly for South Carolina, you are correct. Apparently Sanford's disgusting "redemption" tour was a political success.

    April 3, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  22. Cliff Knotes

    Proves one thing, the religious right is a prime example of smoke and mirrors. Always has been, always will be.

    April 3, 2013 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  23. GatorDude

    Dagnabit! South Carolina Republicans you are hereby and forever banned from making Marion Barry jokes.

    April 3, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  24. Organic1

    Will wonders never cease, he got to eat his cake and have it too.

    April 3, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  25. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    Nike was rediculed for glorifying Tiger Wood's comeback and yet Tiger Woods is a private citizen who did NOT take any oath to represent or serve a particular constituent. So where is the outcry now??? Integrity and family values??? No, more like right wing DOUBLE STANDARD.

    April 3, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
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