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. The Truth

    I lived in Charleston S.C. while this piece of trash was living in Mt. Pleasant, I can remember the day the story broke about him cheating on his wife. It makes me sick to my stomach to think that he has the opportunity to run for congress or for that matter any political position. His morals, beliefs and overall political back round are the exact opposite of what the American people need to represent them. You make the bed you lie in, for the people of South Carolina, if you re-elect this man, it will show a lot about the character of those who live in the low country. Just ask yourself this, is this the kind of man I want to represent my state, my country? I'd say absolutely not, but thats because I have a soul

    April 3, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  2. David

    In this run-off, it was between Sanford and a personal injury attorney. I think Colbert-Busch likes her chances in the general election!

    April 3, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  3. mdn

    I thought SC was socially conservative but this win shows the country that SC is as socially liberal as Greewich Village or San Francisco...or they are a bunch of hippocrites.

    April 3, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  4. JP

    It was either Sanford or Bostic, who was supported by evangelicals and social conservatives. Sanford hasn't won yet. He still has to beat Colbert-Busch, the sister of Stephen Colbert. If South Carolinians have any sanity, they will vote for Busch. Sanford was one of the worst governors in SC history and needs to get the hell out of politics. Economic development was almost nonexistent under Governor Sanford and put the state back years.

    April 3, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  5. emma

    To be fair, Mark Sanford IS the best the GOP has to offer. If you'll remember, he lead the pack of their national contenders only a couple of years ago. For what reason? There is none. Typical GOP in 2013.

    April 3, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  6. peridot2

    Wow. Holy crow. So with Republicans adultery's OK as long as you're a man and you marry one of your mistresses after you divorce your wife???

    What about the OTHER MISTRESS? What does SHE get?!?

    April 3, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  7. SColbert

    mdn, what you don't understand is that SC is a divided state. 2/3's of the regions (geographically) have historically voted blue in the past several years. That lone 1/3 of the state is more populous & is one of the biggest conservative strongholds in the country...but which is changing with immigrants and transplants to the area. This race takes place in an area that is more in the middle, leaning to the left slightly.

    April 3, 2013 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  8. nothing new here

    ex-Governor Sanford wasn't that good....
    HIs bedroom affairs aside, his idea of fiscal responsibility leaves a lot to be desired. Like having the taxpayers pay for his weekend excursions, not a very financially sane idea.
    Go play on your own time and your own dime, politicians, and leave the preaching to the preachers on Sunday morning.

    April 3, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  9. William Bishop

    surely South Carolinians have better sence and morals.

    April 3, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  10. nothing new here

    IT is official --–
    The GOP no longer believes in the one man – one woman marriage principle.
    My oh my, how the so-called mighty do fall.
    I am laughing, even though perhaps I shouldn't.

    April 3, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  11. GAK

    Imagine that!! The Republican Party nominating another adulterer claiming he is the best hope for the party!! What is with these conservatives,can't they find some one who isn't cheating on his wife??

    April 3, 2013 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  12. Woody's Hay

    Exactly when has the GOP "forgiven" Ted, B. Clinton, or Jesse?

    Ron Jeremy for Republican Pres nomination 2016!

    April 3, 2013 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    "But SC is supposed to believe that he is "God's pick"? Sounds like the rapist who used Christian Mingle to find gullible women"

    Seriously? That actually happened? A Christian Mingle rapist? I thought CM was all about finding God's choice for folks. I laugh at their ads, but really. Who knew God picked rapists too. Reminds me of something someone said during campaigning ... something about God's "intentions". Oh well.

    April 3, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  14. Tom1940

    If Dem's and the rest of the country can put Bill Clinton's past behind them, then Gov. Sanford deserves forgiveness and a chance.

    April 3, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  15. Dave

    Republicans only use God and morality to fool the simple minded Christian Right to fund their philandering on the Appalachian Trail. They are much less moral than many Democrats. They just hide behind Jesus forgives so you should too. What a farce.

    April 3, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  16. Dave

    Republicans only use God and morality to fool the simple minded Christian Right to fund their philandering on the Appalachian Trail. They are much less moral than many Democrats. They just hide behind J e s u s forgives so you should too. What a farce.

    April 3, 2013 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  17. JohnK

    Another example of a hypocritical Republican "family values" candidate. I guess iif he gets elected he will feel entitled to legislate everyone else's "morality" like the rest of his fellow GOP party members.

    April 3, 2013 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  18. don in albuquerque

    The party of family values? Moral highground? Christian values? Bwahhahahahaha!

    April 3, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  19. SColbert

    "But SC is supposed to believe that he is "God's pick"? Sounds like the rapist who used Christian Mingle to find gullible women"......

    Yes, that really happened.

    One more thing about Mark Sanford. He was the poster boy for using tax payer dollars to grandstand against the stimulus. Remember that?

    Then he took stimulus dollars, then he came back and took the max. Then Nikki Haley kept on taking federal aid. SC's infrastructure is looking better than it has in over a hundred years now. No thanks to their ridiculous grandstanding on the tax payers' dime.

    April 3, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  20. Blue

    He had to bring in religion. When did the Bible-nuts think that it is ok to discard your wife and sons for self-indulgence.

    April 3, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  21. NotFooledByDistractions

    Just further proof that the morals and family values exalted by the right really only pertain to everyone else.

    April 3, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  22. Bring em home

    Nothing surprises me in politics anymore. People really, if he is going to lie to the one person in his life who he chose to trust, he is lying to you. This man is not worthy of public office.

    April 3, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  23. lottie

    so much for God and family from the GOP . if this disgusting guy gets elected they deserve him. The party of No just gets worse and worse. They are ready to condemn others but can't find one moral person to run? They are the party that doesn't believe in same sex marriage but screwing around on your wife is perfectly acceptable. They don't mind telling women how to handle their bodies . What a disgusting group of old men. Hey we can all claim God has forgiven us then do what ever the hell we want.

    April 3, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  24. Lin McKay

    BIG mistake to flaunt the mistress turned fiance . . . now she becomes the elephant in the room.

    April 3, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  25. W.G.

    Romney and his bragging about the way the Chinese run their sweatshops. Gingrich dumping his first wife
    while she had cancer . Perry so bigoted He thinks he´s normal . Now Sanford . These High standards the
    G.O.P. (The Grand Old Problem ) are showing are the norm for their party . The republicans have no honor
    or morals . They are bad for Women , Latinos , African Americans , Gays , the Old , the Young and the
    Middleclass and so on and so on .....

    April 3, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
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