April 2nd, 2013
09:31 PM ET
9 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.

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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. Ricky

    So what this is telling me is that I should no-call no-show to my employer for about half a month, and when I decide to come back I should expect a promotion. That is, of course, as long as I apologize. I guess I'll book my plane ticket now.

    April 3, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  2. Kwlez

    And he wants to vote against gay marriage.

    April 3, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  3. G Smith

    Sad...We keep rewarding bad behavior....and we complain about our government and politicans...He is now a reborn Christian by convenience.

    April 3, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  4. Grinning Libber

    The "values' party Hack Hack

    April 3, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  5. jackson

    So much for "family values". Score another win for hypocrisy!

    April 3, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  6. buckwild

    Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

    April 3, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  7. Fed Up 2012

    Good ol' white boy screws up and gets rewarded for it again.....party of two faced, lying weasels.

    April 3, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  8. Doug Lynn

    This is a tragedy. He lied to everyone. He is a totally arrogant and selfish politician. How can people be so naive as to believe he has changed? I desperately hope he loses in the general election.

    April 3, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  9. SillyPutty

    I guess only Republicans get second chances.

    April 3, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  10. Sybarite

    He's got my vote.

    April 3, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  11. Bob Lewis

    LMAO with "fiscal hawk" description. He's a criminal who misused public funds to screw around with his girlfriend. He had no problem spending tons of public money for his own misbehavior.

    April 3, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  12. Claude Mondiere

    It is always forgiven when just love is involved, who can throw the first stone ?

    April 3, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. Erik N

    Stories like this remind me of why I hate America sometimes.

    April 3, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  14. David

    I'm republican and I wouldn't vote for him. Tired of politicians from both sides!

    April 3, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  15. leatherneck88

    LOL...Welcome to America today...where character , honor and ethics no longer matter

    April 3, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  16. Jeb

    Sanford has made a very lucrative career for himself by operating from the belief that the people of South Carolina are extremely gullible.

    Will this continue to pay off for him?

    April 3, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. wrap2tyt

    This says soooooo much about the great state of South Carolina... take a bow S.C., you deserve it!

    April 3, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  18. DemFromSC

    Although I agree that we SC voters should consider Sanford's infidelity before voting for him, my personal opinion is that his greater sin was his dereliction of duty by leaving the state/country without telling anyone how to contact him. He was the chief executive of the state, and he simply abandoned ship for his own selfish purposes. Hopefully, the Democratic candidate will defeat him in the May election.

    April 3, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  19. Michael in Boston

    This gives me hope that Anthony Weiner can make a come-back! Yay for the disallusionment that "we the people" have a choice when it comes to who represents our interests in government!

    April 3, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  20. Julie @ Willow Bird Baking

    Wow. What a slap in the face to his beautiful, faithful ex-wife. Thanks, South Carolina, for refusing to recognize faithful gay marriages but showing us you have NO problems with infidelity in regular ol' straight marriages.

    April 3, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  21. Mark

    First of all, The REPUBLICANS aren't nominating him....he won two primaries. Second of all, it's you Democrats that have caused this to happen. You all proved with Bill Clinton that adultery doesn't matter and thats between a man and his wife. You also proved that the CEO of the "state" can go missing to do those adulterous duties at any point and time and spend money on it. Lewinski was an intern and last I checked the Oval office was bought, paid for and curently operated by the taxpayers of this country. So all of you can save YOUR self-righteous pokes. You all have said it was OK so Sanford is just operating on that same baseline YOU GUYS claimed during the Clinton fiasco. Had you done the right thing and agreed to throw him out because of his behavior and his lying (just like Nixon), then Sanford would be plowing his fields in the 6th district right now rather that running for Congress. Dont blame ANYONE from SC for following the path YOU GUYS promoted!! I guess sanford thought (regarding Bill Clinton) "if You can't Beat him, Join Him" I'm NOT voting for him....because my principles are still intact but I'm not going to sit here and read all of this YAP without calling you guys on it!

    April 3, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  22. Robb

    As an independent I find it funny how Libs come on here and bash this guy for an extra-marital affair....yet excused Billy Boy when he was in the White House and lied under oath to Congress!! What a bunch of Dolts!!

    April 3, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  23. Brian from DC

    With Rush Limbaugh as the moral compass of the Republican Party all things are possible.

    April 3, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  24. iceload9

    SC musical chairs. Looking at congress, I guess it really doesn't matter who gets elected. They will take their marching orders from the PAC's.

    April 3, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  25. Eddie

    I voted for him and couldn't be happier.

    April 3, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
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