Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 12, 2016

South Carolina: Sanford Poised for Comeback in GOP Runoff

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images File Photo)

For a candidate known for one of the past decade’s most colossal political mistakes, former Gov. Mark Sanford has run a nearly flawless campaign for the 1st District.

As a result, Sanford is on track to win the Republican runoff and maintains a solid position in the special election for the coastal, GOP-leaning district.

On Tuesday, voters will determine whether Sanford can proceed with his political comeback over his GOP opponent, attorney Curtis Bostic. Palmetto State Republicans are confident Sanford will win the GOP nomination and continue to face Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the May 7 general election.

A runoff victory will show that even after the former governor’s epic political implosion — disappearing from the state for days and admitting to an extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina — solid campaign mechanics can push a candidate to victory.

“The governor has spent plenty of time addressing his personal failures from 2009, and I think anyone who knows him would agree that it was very much at odds with the rest of his political career,” Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said in an interview.

Sawyer is one of a handful of former Sanford aides helping their previous boss on his quest for political redemption. That path lies in familiar territory: Sanford used to represent much of the current 1st District in Congress before he became governor.

His campaign’s competence there contrasts with Bostic, who struggled with organization and fundraising during the primary. For example, Sanford has aired television spots, but Bostic’s ad buys are minimal.

Instead, Bostic touted endorsements from noteworthy conservatives such as former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, commentator Ann Coulter and others. Bostic’s supporters portray him as the anti-Sanford. They note his integrity and faithfulness — a not-so-subtle jab at Sanford’s affair and subsequent divorce.

Sanford supporters counter that 1st District voters prize fiscal conservatism over social issues.

But while many South Carolina Republicans are certain Sanford will win Tuesday, their opinions are more mixed about the general election. Some say the math absolutely does not add up for a Democratic takeover of a solidly Republican seat. Others are not as confident.

On Monday, Colbert Busch’s campaign released a poll showing her to be competitive, but it is unclear whether those numbers will hold against Republican attacks.

What really scares some Republicans is her brother, comedian Stephen Colbert, and his television and online following. He has 4.7 million followers on Twitter.

“Of all the districts in South Carolina, if there is one Republican [seat] … a Democrat could take, it’s this one,” said a South Carolina GOP operative and Sanford ally. “Sanford’s going to have to fight tooth and nail.”

This is an open-seat race to succeed Republican Tim Scott, who was appointed to the Senate.

The polls close at 7 p.m. for the runoff.

  • pmorton

    I’ve seen 2 polls with Colbert Busch ahead in the General. Haven’t seen any with her behind. Looks very good 5 weeks out.

  • Rob_Chapman

    Shows again the double standard the GOP rank and file apply in politics.
    For a GOP candidate no offense is too premeditated or flagrant to overlook.
    Family values in the GOP just means hypocrisy.

  • RICH .

    BS, unlike the dem killer in Mass. he killed no one and is running in full daylight with what happened. Sen Teddy ran to hide under momma skirt and got away with murder and I bet you supported that.

  • grannycares

    Why would Bostic rely on Rick Santorum? The guy could not even win reelection in his home state!!

  • AmosJones

    How about his home wrecking Argentinian whore? Will she be showcased to appeal to the Evangelical vote?

  • SolidGOP

    Keep in mind, other than that little disappearance (no worse than a stunt by a former president, by the way), Governor Sanford had an EXCELLENT RECORD, and the state is about to reward him with a seat in Congress.

    Best wishes governor, we HERE in SC love you!!!

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