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. Thomas

    A true role model for his four sons !

    April 3, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  2. fayray11x

    and to paraphrase Neil, "One small step forward for Sanford and One giant leap BACKWARDS for SC voters"

    April 3, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  3. TomGI

    Shamed as governor but perfectly acceptable to be a congressman. He desperately wants to return to the Camelot gravy train and get that 5 star perk package. Sure glad I don't live in South Carolina.

    April 3, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  4. lewtwo

    Just another good 'FAMILY VALUES' GOP politician in a long line.

    April 3, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lynda/Minnesota
    I'm indulging in the useless speculation that we tend to do on this thread because it is relatively quiet here on the work front. I'm guessing things are quiet on your end as well, but I must admit that I am baffled as to why South Carolinians would put this man back into elected office. It defies reason and just good common sense.
    However, besides idle curiosity as this pecuiar behaviour I couldn't give a good gosh darn what these willfully ignorant folks bring on themselves by re-electing someone that's screwed them in the past.

    April 3, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  6. Ramon E. Balaguer-Trujillo

    South Carolina is full of idiots and it's self evident in not just considering a poor excuse of a man for the vacant House seat, but actually electing him shamelessly and this state is suppose to be the buckle of the Bible belt, yeah right!!! I'm packing already, can't be around so many hypocrites... REBT :(

    April 3, 2013 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  7. Bob1god

    Once again, justice is blind.

    April 3, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  8. RainCityLady

    If he gets elected to congress, the door will be open for a run for the Prez in 2016. Bwahahahahahahahah! No wonder they don't want gun control. How would they continue to shoot themselves in the feet?

    April 3, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  9. GOP = Greed Over People

    Quote an obscure book in the Bible as a reason for preventing equal rights to all as provided by the Constitution, but break one of the 10 Commandments, and get re-elected?

    No complaining when he is discovered using taxpayer funds for personal use, again.
    No complaining when he promises one thing and then does another.
    No complaining when he tells out right lies to cover his illicit conduct.

    Only in South Carolina.

    Hopefully.

    April 3, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. ja

    americans talk about morals, the nerve, but so many voters have thier heads in the sand

    April 3, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  11. Michelle

    For all the GOP fusses about the moral decline of the US, they elect a man with the morals of an alley cat to represent them? Another example of act as I say, not as I do.

    April 3, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  12. jonp

    This means that David Petraeus still has a shot at the presidency. We need Petraeus to run so that he displaces all of the lunatic conservatives (I'm looking at you christians and tea partiers) that will vie for the GOP nomination.

    April 3, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. chaing

    Another reason to cut the perks of the Senate and Congress. He should fit right in with the other congressmen and women and the gop in South Carolina will will get what they vote for......lies, lies and more lies and no moral substance!

    April 3, 2013 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  14. Richard Miller

    The party of sleaze lives on with this pandering politician. I wonder what part of hypocrite that these people don't understand? Is there something in the water down there?

    April 3, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Lynda/Minnesota
    Seriously? That actually happened? A Christian Mingle rapist? I thought CM was all about finding God's choice for folks.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Lynda!! I' don't know if that story is true or not but I wouldn't be surprised, after all we've been getting gang- raped by the GOP for many years now, and if you believe their yahoos they are God's choice for folks!
    Lol!

    April 3, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  16. Dan

    @Michelle, Don't insult alley cats like that. They only have instinct to act on where Sanford knew exactly what he was doing.

    April 3, 2013 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Ramon E. Balaguer-Trujillo
    Off-topic but your name begs the question: Dominicano?

    April 3, 2013 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  18. Jim in California

    So, I am just curious. Was it fiscally responsible for him to disappear from the office, claiming he was hiking the Apalachian Trail, and then going to Argentina? Or was that his Family Values at work? Just wondering.

    April 3, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  19. MesaMax

    Like Hillary Clinton, he is damaged goods. Time to move on.

    April 3, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  20. John Richard

    The last time I looked we do not live in a religious state governed by Popes or mullahs. If adultery were an impediment to public office, there would be a real shortage of candidates. The real question is whether or not this man is capable of using good judgment to make intelligent decisions. His disappearing act and other strange behaviors related to that scandal seem much more important to me than his bedroom antics. That being said, we live in a democracy and if the people of S.C. want this man to represent them in Congress then who are we – the rest of the country – to say any different.

    April 3, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  21. Lenny Pincus

    Congrats to the voters who said loudly and proudly, "Family Values are BS!!"

    April 3, 2013 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  22. Dan

    @lottie, His congressional district will deserve him, but the rest of the country will not. As a US rep, he would influence legislation for the whole country. 43% of his district voted against him. Lets hope those same people put party affiliation aside in the general election and vote with the democrats. Maybe that will teach SC republicans that electability does matter.

    April 3, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  23. Rino 1

    And we wonder why we have so many problems that are never solved????
    I am glad we can keep these moral giants in our government.

    April 3, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  24. manyote

    If it's a fellow rebubican, noo problem mon! Noo problem1 You go for it, mon! You go for it! It's all good!

    April 3, 2013 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  25. Margaret

    At least the people know he is already pond scum instead of finding out after they vote for him. I guess they feel the better the sleazeball you know than one you don't.

    April 3, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
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