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. Jesus DeNazarenio

    And they crucified Bubba for the same thing! Spent tens of millions to smear him. Johnny Dean talked bout this in his book "Conservatives without conscience".

    April 3, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  2. Barb Bray

    God forgives sin but he does not reward it. Satan rewards sin. So lets see how this election turns out.

    April 3, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  3. Sivick

    Core family values, fiscal responsibility. This man stole 70,000 dollars of tax payer money to fund his illicet affair with his mistress, and he wants to be the family values "fiscal hawk". You know what would have been a good use of taxpayer money, NOT USING IT ON YOUR MISTRESS. If SC repubs vote for this guy it's a sign their party is doomed. They'll vote for the devil himself as long as he spouts the party line, whether or not he follows it.

    April 3, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. rosie

    He lied and cheated once after you gave him your trust. Why in the name of all things proper would even consider giving him another chance? He is a POLITICIAN!!

    April 3, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  5. Phattee

    And the GOP's hypocritical love affair with adulterers continues...

    April 3, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. jska

    One name... BILL CLINTON> The democrats still love him and he violated a young intern with a cigar in the white house! Get over it demoRats! He has worked to repair his image and we all get second chances...democrats tend to get 3rd, 4th and 5th chances.

    April 3, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. JLS639

    Some 400,000 eligible voters in the district and 45,000 turn out. Of course, it is a primary runoff election.

    April 3, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. Old Artillery Man

    What does one expect when my fellow citizens of South Carolina expect when an adulterer runs for office. Did we not also vote for serial adulterer Net Gringrich ran for the presidential nomination?

    April 3, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. Sybarite

    Rudy NYC

    Dereliction of duty I can see, but...... 'treason'? But, hey – if that's who the people want........

    April 3, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  10. dinaanid

    As a liberal, I kicked to the curb Clinton, Weiner and Spitzer, for criminal stupidity and treating their wives and supporters with such disrespect. Since conservatives hold so dear their "love" of "Christian family values", I would expect them have at least the same standards, but their hypocrisy is endless.

    April 3, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  11. Shuffler

    More trash in office supported by more trash as in fiancé and voters.

    April 3, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  12. mas8baller

    He's a poster boy of what a good democrat is. No morals no values no common sense lots of ego and thinks they can get away with anything.

    April 3, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  13. Jason

    The 10 GOP commandments( Jesus approved-he told Sanford)
    1. Thy shall cheat on thy wife
    2. Thy shall screw the poor and the needy
    3. Thy shall destroy the environment
    4. Thy shall make war for profit at he expense of other's kids
    5. Thy shall only decry deficit when thy sees someone helping the poor
    7. Thy shall lie
    8 Thy shall steal
    9 Thy shall murder
    10. Thy shall lust after thy neighbors wife

    April 3, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  14. zago

    If this guy is elected to Congress, "God forbid," he'll come tell us about family values like Newt Gingrich who fought for DOMA after his third divorce and numerous extra-marital affairs! So much!

    April 3, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  15. Grinning Libber

    The "values' party – hack hack – fits fight in!

    April 3, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    Tommy67 wrote:

    If he was a liberal he would not have even left office. The liberal bar on morals is very low.
    Since you sound like a conservative, I can understand why you're ignorant of the fact that he finished out his term.

    Sybarite wrote:

    Rudy NYC – Dereliction of duty I can see, but...... 'treason'? But, hey – if that's who the people want........
    If dereliction of duty isn't treason, then what is?

    April 3, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  17. nomad2003

    yes asked for Clinton to resign (as Sanford DID) and then voted for impeachment for lying since Clinton did not resign...
    Sanford paid back all personal use of government funds (rather small amount)

    It also seems his kids have forgiven, but that is their family business, not mine....

    So he admitted his error, corrected what he could, and asked for forgiveness. Give him forgiveness.

    It seems 50% of women and 60% of men have cheated...

    April 3, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. Chipster

    Sanford didn't exactly do the same thing as Clinton. What Sanford did was dereliction of duty when he lied about going hiking in the Appalachians. SC state officials wasted a lot of time and money looking for him while friends and family worried that he was injured or perhaps dead. Republicans who voted for Sanford have no right to criticize Clinton, who lied about an affair. The only money that was wasted was the result of a Republican witch hunt. There was never any evidence of criminal conduct by Clinton around the Whitewater real estate deal, no crime, no coverup of a crime. They had to settle for a lie to cover a pitiful little affair. Pathetic waste of time and money.

    April 3, 2013 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  19. LogicRules

    It goes to show how some people who claim they want and yearn for whats right and best for our country only do whats right for their party or ideology. Can you imagine a man who flew to another country to cheat on his wife, on the taxpayers dime, lied about it repeatedly, and then gets re-elected? What is wrong with South Carolina? Are you kidding?

    April 3, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  20. Delilah

    Hypocritical conservatives + Old White males with no morals or ethics = GOP

    April 3, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  21. Zenger Folkman

    @zago: "If this guy is elected to Congress, "God forbid," he'll come tell us about family values " I beleive we will have heard the last obout "family values" from the GOPers. They have found out it is a losing message, as their members violate it on a daily basis. I predict the "new & imporved" GOP will be silent on this issue. They have already figured out that their strong evangelical base has no where else to turn and will continue to support GOP candidates in the future. Meanwhile, any evangelicals they may lose they think they will be able to replace with libertarians who would be attracted now that they've dropped the God talk.

    April 3, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  22. DE

    mas8baller; you described a repug to a tee.

    April 3, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. sam

    Did not show up at work for more than a week, without notifying anyone. Then lied about it. Then got reelected.

    April 3, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  24. Reasonably

    Funny to invoke his god and having an extra marital affair in the same sentence.

    These hypocrites and the people that vote for them crack me up.

    But then – hard for me to think of a politician who isn't a hypocrite and a liar.

    April 3, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  25. religious_hypocrites_are_everywhere

    Another win for pure, wholesome, dog_forgiven religious hypocrite!

    April 3, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
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