Washington (CNN) - After endorsing former Rep Mark Sanford last month in the special congressional election in South Carolina, House Speaker John Boehner appeared to distance himself Tuesday from the controversial former governor, saying "the electorate gets to decide" who their representatives in Congress are.
Sanford gained notoriety in 2009 when while serving as South Carolina's governor he disappeared from public view and his aides said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. He later admitted he was in Argentina visiting his mistress.
The former governor is now engaged to his former mistress, and is attempting a political with a bid to win back his old congressional seat, which was recently vacated when Rep Tim Scott was appointed to the Senate. In this week's special election, he faces Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert.
Boehner, when asked if he worried about any political fallout for Republicans if Sanford wins, didn't exactly embrace his former House colleague, instead saying it's up to the voters.
"The voters of the 1st District of South Carolina will make their decision. And just like any one of us or any of the 435 members of Congress, we don't get to choose who they are. They, their electorate gets to decide who they are. And so, we'll see what the outcome is tonight," Boehner said at a weekly press conference with other House GOP leaders.
The number two House Democrat tried to downplay expectations for a victory for Colbert Busch in the closely contested special election on Tuesday.
"We shouldn't be in the ballgame," Rep Steny Hoyer told reporters, noting the district leans heavily toward Republicans. He added "if we win that district it will be clearly be an upset and a huge loss for the Republican Party and they will try to rationalize it was Sanford."
But when asked about what Sanford's' reputation could mean for Democrats' own political fortunes if he wins, Hoyer replied, "we're going to win that race one way or another."