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. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    You can't blame the man for trying to get re-elected to public office, who wouldn't? Benefits are great, pay is not too shabby, and there are all types of "perks" like trips to South America for example.
    My concern is the people of South Kakalakee willingly setting themselves up to get screwed....again....by the same fellow.

    April 3, 2013 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  2. Donna

    April Fool. No?

    Voters should be required to pass an I.Q. test before being allowed to cast a ballot.

    April 3, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  3. steven

    We're all human. I guess. That being said, why he is accepted as a quality candidate is beyond me.

    April 3, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  4. Rick Lawson

    Oh boy, I live in SC and I am horrified that my fellow citizens in the low country are letting this loser back in the race. Why oh why does my state keep doing stupid stuff!!!

    April 3, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  5. Pete

    Just how much did it cost republicans to get that done or are Carolinians that freakin stupid...Sanford the confessed adulterer and he's going back thinking either people forgot or everyone in that state going to forgive him,what hypocracy from the righteous bible toting righties that scream bloody murder when democrates do something not even as close but are held in higher standards than republicans,just ask Bill Clinton just for that same type thing and you'll agree!!

    April 3, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  6. Rosslaw

    I understand he and David Vitter are forming a new party. The new right-wing family values "Let's Party!" party.

    April 3, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  7. joesmith

    as they say in Brooklyn, now we have him by the short hair..he will be bought/paid for just like the late senaror from Mass.was..not good news for the electorate..

    April 3, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  8. registered voter

    Anthony Weiner should come back

    April 3, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  9. Thatguy371

    The 'family values party' should be renamed the 'family values for everyone else but us' party. But then the right has had in recent years a completely different set of values for everyone else than they have for themselves. This would be a great hayseed farmer comedy routine if it weren't so ridiculous.

    April 3, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  10. roberto82

    I bet he's for preserving the sanctity of marriage.

    April 3, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  11. Thunderbolt

    Only liberals put republicans, conservatives and christians all in the same box and cover it. Talking about a republican as if they are the only ones who have done these things. Why you guys keep putting people in office like Reid, Pelosis,Rangel etc. etc. And so you might gain some understanding about christians. Their belief is to FORGIVE sinners, but to get rid of the sin. Does it mean they won't sin? No, but it means they try not to sin.Are you perfect? Now lets watch you climb on top of a rock(from underneath it) and tell us all how great Clinton is.......lol I will try to forget Bengazi, Who do I want answering that call at three A.M.? It sure isn't Hillary, and Obama doesn't have enough time from his hollywood exploits to answer it. Yeah you guys are on top as usual..................Make something up, repeat it to yourself till you believe it, then feed it to your masses. Just another day in the world where being responsible is to extreme. Common sense, is old fashion, and stupidity rules yet another day......................

    April 3, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  12. Hypocrite, Thy Name is Republican

    Mark Sanford's win proves once again that Republicans are hypocrites about "family values" and the sanctity of marriage. He committed ADULTERY - a sin in any version of the Ten Commandments - and now he's parading his mistress as his "fiancee." But Republicans don't think ADULTERY and DIVORCE destroy marriages; no, it's two men or two women getting married that will destroy marriage.

    April 3, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  13. Yes1fan

    So abdicating your job and lying to your constituents and your family, have been officially voted as "OK" in SC eh?
    I'm OK with forgiveness, but I am NOT OK with going further by "rewarding" that behavior – that sends ALL the wrong messages.

    April 3, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  14. tony

    Lust beats accountability. Usually for repubs it's greed first. In G@d we trust.

    April 3, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  15. Lynda/Minnesota

    My concern is the people of South Kakalakee willingly setting themselves up to get screwed....again....by the same fellow.

    Oh, yeah. A real Frankie and Johnny they can look back on in total confusion ...

    "He is their man. He done them wrong."

    But I agree with your other comment. This IS a man who lives off the government because he simply can't function in the "real" world. You know. One of those 47%ers Mitt Romney has such disgust of.

    April 3, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  16. ghostriter

    I'll say this much. Republicans do tend to marry their mistresses. It's just the right thing to do.

    April 3, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  17. ya rights

    Heh a gerrymandered GOP district isn't redemption but political stupidity.

    April 3, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  18. ellid

    You would think that a party that is so focused on morality and upright living would have kicked this admitted adulterer to the kerb, but it seems that once again, cheating on your spouse is just fine if you're a Republican.


    April 3, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  19. Guest

    Mark Sanford didn't "make a mistake". Putting on one blue sock and one brown one is making a mistake. Mark Sanford made a choice. He made a choice to break the oath he swore before his family, his wife, and his God. He made a choice to lie about his actions. He made conscious, knowing choices every step of the way. He chose to be an adulterer and a liar. By becoming engaged to the woman he was cheating with, he has shown that he does not regret having made those choices. He makes Bill Clinton look ethical.

    April 3, 2013 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  20. Al

    Come on all liberals....lets give the guy a break.....since you gave Clinton a pass...this guys deserves at least a try. Clinton still has not apologized to America for his infidelity.

    April 3, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  21. EJ

    Fool me once....

    April 3, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  22. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    This man reminds me of David Petreaus. Some conservatives are now backing Petreaus, saying he'd make a good presidential candidate. Yes, you can commit adultery, have an affair with two women and compromise our national security by making classified information accessible to these women and all is well as long as you're a republican. Well, only in America.

    April 3, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  23. Jeff

    Folks from all walks of life and all political affiliations makes mistakes, commit adultry and so forth. As a registered Republican, what makes this election so troubling is that it is yet another example of my party focusing on social issues by attempting to force its standards of religious dogma-backed morality on others, while so easily forgiving and closing ranks when its own strays from those same standards. And then we have the nerve to fall back on the ol' "God forgives" line of justification As long as you're a certain type of Christian (white, Republican, Protestant), you apparently have that made-up get-out-of-jail free card. Hypocrytical doesn't begin to describe it.

    April 3, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  24. GGarcia

    Mark Sanford was personally a wealthy man & his wife was one of the wealthiest heiresses in the nation when he was governor of SC.......But he still used state tax dollars to fund his personal expenses repeatedly over the years. He still disappeared repeatedly without any word of where he was - leaving the tax payers high & dry. He still made sure that the poverty rate rose dramatically in his state under his watch as governor. He still made sure that high school drop out rates rose to the top of the national ranks as well.

    But SC is supposed to believe that he is "God's pick"? Sounds like the rapist who used Christian Mingle to find gullible women. He is an i diot, SC, and he is using your ignorance to further his own power trip!!!!

    April 3, 2013 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  25. Nsikan

    He is 'climbing' higher!

    April 3, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
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