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Sanford advances to runoff in SCarolina House race

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford advanced Tuesday to a runoff in the Republican contest for an open congressional seat, taking a step toward reviving a political career that was derailed by an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman while he was governor.
With all precincts reporting, unofficial results show Sanford received about 37 percent of the vote in the predominantly Republican southern coastal district, falling short of the 50 percent-plus margin needed to avoid a runoff. It was unclear who he would face in the April 2 Republican runoff.
Former Charleston County councilman Curtis Bostic held a slim lead over state Sen. Larry Grooms for second place. But the margin is so narrow, less than one percent, that it will trigger an automatic recount. Teddy Turner, the son of media mogul Ted Turner, trailed Bostic and Grooms.
The eventual Republican candidate will square off in the May 7 general election against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of TV comedian Stephen Colbert. She won the Democratic primary for the seat, handily defeating perennial candidate Ben Frasier.
Tuesday was Sanford's first run for office since a 2009 scandal in which the governor acknowledged an affair. After disappearing and telling his staff he was out hiking the Appalachian Trail, he returned to the state to reveal that he was in Argentina with a woman he later become engaged to after divorcing his wife, Jenny. She briefly weighed a bid for the congressional seat herself but decided against it.
Mark Sanford, who vied against 15 other Republican candidates on Tuesday, said it was "a treat and a blessing" to be back on the ballot.
"Are you ready to change things in Washington?" Sanford, flanked by his four sons, asked a boisterous crowd at a restaurant in Charleston's historic district. "I'm incredibly humbled by the outpouring of support we have seen tonight."
The 1st Congressional District seat became vacant last year when Republican Gov. Nikki Haley appointed then-U.S. Rep. Tim Scott to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Republican Jim DeMint, who resigned to head The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
Sanford represented the district in Congress from 1994 to 2000, before he was elected governor.
Sanford, who spent months apologizing to groups around the state after he revealed his affair, said when he announced for his old congressional seat that the apology tour was over. Known for his frugality as both a congressman and governor, he has been spending the campaign talking about getting the nation's fiscal house in order.
For Colbert Busch, the race was the fulfillment of a dream she has had since a young child. Her brother supported her and held a private fundraiser on her behalf in Charleston, stepping out of his role as a faux conservative commentator on the satirical cable TV show "The Colbert Report."
"What an incredible opportunity. God bless America that we can do this," she said earlier Tuesday, adding that if she won, she would have two weeks to concentrate on the campaign while the Republicans in the runoff battle each other. "That is a real advantage."


Updated : 2021-01-28 18:04 GMT+08:00