March 19th, 2013
04:51 PM ET
7 years ago

Sanford and congressional rivals in a low country boil

Charleston, SC (CNN) - In this heated congressional race along the South Carolina coast known as "Low Country," the candidates haven't exactly taken the high road.

Take the flyer mailed out to voters that takes aim at the state's former governor, Mark Sanford, over the extramarital affair he once tried to hide by saying he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

The mailer from one of Sanford's rivals in the race, State Representative Andy Patrick, reads: "We know where this trail ends."

Outside a Charleston polling place, Sanford once again acknowledged his past mistakes.

"Life is a series of course corrections. Some days you get right and you surprise yourself on how right you get them. Other days you disappoint yourself and a lot of others," Sanford told reporters.

With Sanford the favorite on a ballot of 16 GOP candidates, this primary day may only signal a pause in a fierce campaign for the open seat in the state's 1st Congressional District.

If no candidate captures more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two contenders will compete in a run-off in two weeks. Sanford is widely expected to be one of the two GOP finalists.

One of Sanford's potential rivals in the run-off, Teddy Turner, the son of CNN founder Ted Turner, argued the former governor's transgressions are fair game.

"I think his past should be held against him," Turner said.

Turner, a past employee of his father's cable news company and now a high school economics teacher, has taken his own hits.

In a sign of Turner's strength in the race, he's been the subject of numerous negative mailers. One flyer that was sent to voters' mailboxes asks the question: "Do you know the real Teddy Turner?" It includes a picture of one of his father's ex-wives, movie star Jane Fonda.

Turner said name recognition remains a significant factor in the race.

"If you're Mark Sanford he has a lot of that," Turner said, referring to the former governor's "name ID."

"But it doesn't always work in my favor," he added about his own marquee name.

Another GOP candidate, State Senator Larry Grooms, is utilizing another traditional form of negative attacks, the robo-call. However, the automated phone message to voters is really directed at President Obama.

The robo-call features an impersonator of the president saying, "you know what makes me mad? The thought of Larry Grooms in Congress."

Still the voters have grown accustomed to South Carolina's well-chronicled history of rough and tumble politics.

Elizabeth Stahl, a voter who cast her ballot in Mount Pleasant, remains a Sanford supporter, despite his past mistakes. "I'm sorry he screwed up. But I believe in him and I think he's our answer," she said.

Asked whether Turner stands a chance, one of his supporters, Bunky Wichmann said, "Why not? There's only 16 running."

The eventual Republican winner will take on the expected Democratic Party nominee, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, a sister of comedian Stephen Colbert.

She has another way of describing "low country" campaigning.

"I think this race is so important and so pivotal, I think it's just a lot of passion," Colbert Busch said.

Filed under: House • Mark Sanford • South Carolina
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. ja

    the nerve he has to violate the sanity of marriage, i'm sure he signed a few death penalties while in office, the voters shold give him the same, go hiking, that is a dress, another moral majority product

    March 19, 2013 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  2. Thomas

    This guy would sell you a boat with a hole in it .

    Forgive me

    March 19, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  3. Dana

    Goofball Sanford might as well go back to hiking on the trail.

    March 19, 2013 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  4. nothing new here

    The voters of South Carolina should select "none of the above".

    March 19, 2013 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  5. Bella

    With the help of the kindhearted and naive voters, he is going forward in his life in the only way he knows how, in a venue that sets a low bar for integrity, morals, ethics, and judgement: on the government payroll! Having been on the outside for several years, he wants back in! In his mind, he'll be returning to his rightful place as a presidential contender. Save us all from his arrogance.

    March 19, 2013 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  6. t

    .......OK,....let put Sanford and Bachmann together...........That way we KNOW the TRUTH is some where ELSE...

    March 19, 2013 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  7. Seattle Sue

    Mark Sanford can't be trusted by the people of South Carolina, or by his own family.

    March 19, 2013 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |