Republicans Pick Sanford to Take House Seat

     (CN) – They tried to write him off as “The Luv Gov,” but Mark Sanford took another giant step toward political redemption last night, securing the GOP nomination for his old seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
     Sanford will now face off against Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, the Democratic sister of Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert.
     Once touted as a possible Republican presidential candidate or vice presidential pick, Sanford was thought to have committed political suicide four years ago when he disappeared from South Carolina and then reappeared to acknowledge an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman.
     Staffers for Sanford, who had been governor of the state since 2003, drew scorn for attributing their boss’s absence at the time to “hiking the Appalachian Trail.”
     But the door to a potential Sanford comeback unexpectedly opened late last year when U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint resigned to take charge of The Heritage Foundation. DeMint’s move caught many by surprise, as did the decision of Gov. Nikki Haley to fill that newly vacant Senate seat with Tim Scott, at the time a sitting representative of South Carolina’s 1st District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
     As it happened, Sanford represented that very same district for three terms prior to his two terms as governor.
     The journey back to contender wasn’t easy. First Sanford had to overcome a crowded, 16-strong field of primary contenders that included several well-known state lawmakers and even a son of media mogul Ted Turner.
     Then came Tuesday’s run-off election against Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic, a Desert Storm veteran who ran a vitriolic, slash-and-burn style campaign that rehashed the entire affair saga.
     Sanford, however, never hit back. A few weeks before the primary, plywood board with the spray-painted slogan “Sanford saves tax dollars” began appearing throughout the district. He opened each campaign speeches with a request for forgiveness.
     At the same time, Sanford’s campaign invested an estimated $170,000 in three television spots that touted his record as a fiscal conservative.
     Appearing before supporters in Charleston on Tuesday night, Sanford said, “It’s been a long journey … and I am humbled to find ourselves where we find ourselves tonight.”
     He went on to “thank my God,” admitting, “I used to cringe when somebody would say, ‘I want to thank my God’ because at that point I would think this is getting uncomfortable.”
     “But,” he continued, “once you really receive God’s grace and have seen it reflected in others, you stop and acknowledge that grace and the difference he had made in my life and in so many lives across this state and across this nation.”
     Standing at his side throughout was Maria Belen Chapur, the Argentine mistress to whom he is now engaged.
     Sanford defeated Bostic handily, garnering 57 percent of the vote. He will now face Colbert-Busch and Green Party candidate Eugene Platt in a May special election.
     After the race was called, Colbert-Busch released a statement saying, “I look forward to a vigorous campaign that focuses on creating jobs, balancing our country’s budget and choosing an independent-minded leader who shares the values of the great people of South Carolina.”

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