(CNN) – Mark Sanford's bid for Congress in South Carolina was dealt a major blow Wednesday when national Republicans said they would no longer support him after learning his ex-wife accused him of illegally entering her home.
"Mark Sanford has proven he knows what it takes to win elections. At this time, the NRCC will not be engaged in this special election," Andrea Bozek, a spokeswoman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, said in a statement.
The accusations of trespassing leveled at Mark Sanford, a former South Carolina governor, by his ex-wife Jenny Sanford arose after he visited his son to watch the Super Bowl.
"I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14 year old son because as a father I didn't think he should watch it alone," Mark Sanford wrote. "Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen, and met her at the back steps under the light of my cell phone when she returned and told her what had happened."
The explanation came the day after news broke Sanford has been ordered to appear in court two days after the May election in which he's contending to become South Carolina's next congressman. On Wednesday, Sanford went up with his first general election ad criticizing Democratic rival Elizabeth Colbert Busch, and a national Democratic group said it was beginning a six-figure campaign against Sanford.
Jenny Sanford claims in court documents she saw her ex-husband leaving her Sullivan's Island home on Feb. 3, roughly three weeks after Mark Sanford announced his bid for Congress.
"It's an unfortunate reality that divorced couples sometimes have disagreements that spill over into family court," Mark Sanford wrote in his statement. "I did indeed watch the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14 year old son because as a father I didn't think he should watch it alone. Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen, and met her at the back steps under the light of my cell phone when she returned and told her what had happened."
The couple were divorced in 2010 after the then-governor admitted he was carrying on an extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina. He finished out his gubernatorial term in 2011 and has since become engaged to the same woman.
On Tuesday, Jenny Sanford wrote in a message to CNN, "I understood [the documents] were to have remained part of the sealed divorce docs. This is a private matter and I have no further comment."
Sanford said in his statement he is "particularly curious how records that were sealed to avoid the boys dealing with embarrassment are now somehow exposed less than three weeks before this election."
He said he agreed with his ex-wife that the "media is no place to debate what is ultimately a family court matter."
Seeking political redemption, Sanford won the Republican primary this month in a race to fill the 1st District seat left vacant when Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Tim Scott to the Senate late last year.
It's the same district Sanford represented in Congress before becoming governor.
As he deals with the trespassing controversy, Sanford is also going on the attack against his Democratic opponent. In his first TV commercial since he became the GOP nominee, Sanford highlights Colbert Busch's union ties.
"Elizabeth Colbert Busch says she knows jobs and will be independent, but she's not telling you that she's supported by labor unions," says the female narrator in the 30-second spot. "Nearly $30,000 in checks from big labor, even from the union who tried to shut down Boeing and ship a thousand jobs out of South Carolina."
The Sanford campaign confirms to CNN that the ad will start running Wednesday through April 22, and that the campaign will spend nearly $100,000 to run the spot on broadcast and cable television in the Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia markets, which cover nearly all of South Carolina's 1st Congressional District. The campaign is also running the ad on radio in Charleston and Hilton Head, South Carolina.
National Journal first reported the new Sanford commercial.
Also Wednesday, a political action committee that backs Democratic House candidates, announced that it would begin a three-week, six-figure media campaign. As part of that push, House Majority PAC unveiled its first TV ad which attacks Sanford's image as a fiscal conservative.
"Mark Sanford may claim to be a fiscal conservative, but as governor he flew around the world in high style – even jetting to the dentist and a hair dresser – and stuck South Carolinians with the $400,000 bill," said House Majority PAC Communications Director Andy Stone, in announcing the new spot, titled "Air Sanford."
Sanford and Colbert Bush, sister of satirist and Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert, face off in a May 7 special election for the seat that Sanford held for three terms before being elected governor in 2002.
CNN's Paul Steinhauser, Peter Hamby, Ashley Killough and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.
(CNN) – Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who's now running as the Republican nominee in a special congressional election, has been ordered to appear in court two days after the May election over allegations that he trespassed at his ex-wife's home.
Jenny Sanford confirmed a report about court documents she filed claiming she saw her ex-husband leaving her Sullivan's Island home on Feb. 3, roughly three weeks after he announced his bid for Congress.
(CNN) - It could have been a crucial piece of opposition research: The South Carolina Democratic Party accused Mark Sanford, who criticized his rival for taking union contributions, of receiving campaign cash from labor groups himself during a past run for Congress.
Only problem? They had the wrong Sanford.
(CNN) - With less than a month to go until a high profile special election to fill a vacant congressional seat in South Carolina, things are heating up.
Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of satirist and Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert, Tuesday released her first ad of the general election campaign. Her Republican opponent, former Gov. Mark Sanford, whose political career was sidetracked back in 2009 thanks to a well-publicized affair, was quick to respond and criticize Colbert Busch, and he also accepted invitations to four debates between now and the May 7 contest.
(CNN) - It may have been a foregone conclusion, but Stephen Colbert formally endorsed his sister in her bid for Congress Wednesday.
The comedian – who appears on his nightly show as a conservative pundit – joked he was ready to join the "poster committee" for sister Elizabeth Colbert Busch's campaign in South Carolina, pulling out some Elmer's glue and glitter to whip up a sign.
(CNN) - Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who carried out an extramarital affair with Maria Belen Chapur while in office, told CNN in an interview Wednesday he was "completely" surprised when Chapur - now his fiancée - showed up to appear with him the night before when he claimed victory in the runoff for the GOP nomination for his old U.S. House seat.
Sanford was appearing on CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."
– Mark Sanford: I failed in 2009, but last night was a referendum
– Mark Sanford has a woman problem
– Sanford wins GOP nomination for House seat
– Runoff is second test in shamed governor's political comeback
(CNN) – Mark Sanford is another step closer to political redemption, but the real headline out of his Tuesday victory in a Republican primary runoff for his old congressional seat was a rare public appearance by his former mistress - who's now his fiancée.
And while the former South Carolina governor is considered the favorite in next month's general election showdown with Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of satirist and Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert, his past infidelity remains front and center in the race and could continue to hurt him with crucial female voters.
Jake Tapper interviews Mark Sanford Wednesday on "The Lead" - 4 p.m. ET, only on CNN.
(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.
(CNN) – Comedian Stephen Colbert will host a pair of high dollar fundraisers this month for his sister Elizabeth, who is vying for South Carolina's vacant seat in the U.S. Congress.
The events are slated to take place in New York and Washington, and carry a minimum price tag of $500, with special "event chair" tickets going as high as $10,000.
Cambridge, Massachusetts (CNN) – He’s been in Washington only three months, but U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is already planning a pilgrimage to a critical presidential primary state.
The outspoken Cruz, a conservative attorney who has sprinted headlong into the Washington media spotlight since his election last November, will be the keynote speaker at the South Carolina Republican Party's Silver Elephant Dinner, CNN has learned. Cruz spokesperson Catherine Frazier also confirmed his attendance at the dinner, slated for May 3 in Columbia.