Sanford Returns to Congress

     CHARLESTON, S.C. (CN) – Once-disgraced Mark Sanford came back from the politically dead Tuesday, defeating Elisabeth Colbert-Busch by 9 percentage points in a special election in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District.
     Sanford took 54 percent of the vote to Colbert-Busch’s 45.
     At his Tuesday night victory party at the Liberty Tap Room in Mount Pleasant, Sanford conceded that he “had deficiencies that were well-chronicled as a candidate.”
     Standing on a large kitchen pan so he could be seen above the crowd, the congressman-elect spoke of God, angels and “human grace.”
     “I just want to acknowledge a God not just of second chances, but of third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth chances … because that’s the reality of our shared humanity,” Sanford said.
     Standing with one of his four sons and his fiancée, Mariá Belén Chapur, Sanford continued, “I am an imperfect man saved by God’s grace.”
     Shifting gears, Sanford promised “to try to be the best congressman that I can be,” adding, “I have a question for you all … how many of you want to change Washington, D.C.?”
     The question elicited a thundering response from the crowd.
     Sanford garnered 54.04 percent of the 143,774 votes cast to Colbert-Busch’s 45.21 percent. Green Party candidate Eugene Platt received 0.48 percent of the vote, while write-in candidates accounted for the rest of the ballots.
     The voter turnout for the special election was 31.55 percent, the South Carolina State Election Commission reported.
     Colbert-Busch, sister of Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert, conceded the election at the Charleston Renaissance Hotel, surrounded by family and friends.
     “We put up a heck of a fight, didn’t we?” she said. “The people have spoken, and I respect their decision.”
     Sanford has never lost an election. After being elected to represent the 1st Congressional District in 1995, voters sent him back to Washington for two more terms before electing him governor in 2002 and 2006.
     But given the circumstances — Sanford’s well-publicized 2009 disappearance to see Chapur in Argentina — this was the most difficult and unlikely race he’d ever undertaken.
     Colbert-Busch, backed by $1 million from the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, tried to hammer home the idea that Sanford had “betrayed our trust.” But the theme never gained the traction she hoped it would — even when the former governor’s ex-wife, Jenny Sanford accused him of trespassing on her property.
     Sanford is to appear in Charleston County Family Court on Thursday to answer his ex-wife’s complaint. The revelation caused the National Republican Congressional Committee to withdraw its support from Sanford’s campaign.
     But Sanford pressed on, deploying spray-painted plywood signs throughout the district.
     He campaigned, in essence, against the Democratic Party and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – even carrying around a big cardboard cutout of Pelosi to “debate” Sanford also lambasted Colbert-Busch for accepting donations from organized labor — a red flag in a notoriously anti-union state.
     No date has been set for Sanford’s swearing in.
     Through her spokesman, Gov. Nikki Haley said she looks forward to working with Sanford, “to bring jobs to the Lowcountry, fight job-killing unions, rein in out-of-control Washington spending, turn back Obamacare and strengthen the Charleston port.”
     The congressional seat opened up when newly re-elected Senator Jim DeMint quit to take a higher-paying job at the Heritage Foundation. Gov. Nikki Haley then appointed Congressman Tim Scott to the U.S. Senate, opening up Scott’s seat for Tuesday’s special election.
     Colbert-Busch, 58, a locally prominent businesswoman, was making her first run for elected office.

%d bloggers like this: