Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford will face a runoff in the Republican race as Elizabeth Colbert Busch, sister of Stephen Colbert, has won the Democratic primary for an open congressional seat in South Carolina. State Sen. Larry Grooms and former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic are in a tight race for the second spot in the April 2 runoff.
As South Carolina voters selected their nominees on Tuesday in the state's 1st District special election, Mark Sanford spent Tuesday awaiting to find out if he would be chosen as the Republican nominee for a congressional seat left vacant by Tim Scott. The Palmetto State's dramatic race had 18 total candidates vying in the South Carolina primary, including Elizabeth Colbert Busch and Ted Turner’s son.
While Elizabeth Colbert Busch easily won the Democratic vote Tuesday night, Sanford led the field against 15 other Republicans for the party nomination but could face a run-off April 2 if he fails to win more than 50% of the ballots. It was expected he would not receive more than 50% needed to ensure his name on the final ballot in the May 7 general election.
Indeed, while Colbert Busch drew attention for her relationship to the faux-rightwing-TV-blowhard, the more interesting race to watch has been the Republican primary for the first congressional district: would the former South Carolina governor--who finished his second term in 2011 after an extramarital affair and then attempted to cover it up by saying he was hiking the Appalachian Trail--be able to return to politics?
Tuesday evening's results advances Sanford to a runoff election on April 2. Early results show it remains unclear who Sanford will face in the GOP runoff, and the bigger question is whether voters and Republican backers believe Sanford to be the strongest contender against Elizabeth Colbert Busch.
According to the Sunlight Foundation, Sanford has raised around $300,000 with donations from David Koch and Foster Friess. Colbert Busch has raised a little over $300,000, with help from her comedian brother, who has said he would step out of his Comedy Central persona to help his sister out. "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 said. "Like, I’m not worried about what it would do to me or my show to try to help her as myself–not as my character, but to help her as myself.”
Colbert added, “And, you know, if people think that’s not the right thing for me to do, I don’t care. It’s my sister and I’m willing to help her."
Sanford's strategy has been one of repentance--asking South Carolina to forgive him for disappearing for six days while he spent time with his mistress turned fiancee in Argentina. After refusing to resign, Sanford still faced an ethics violation and fine, was ostracized by Republicans and dissolved a marriage of 21 years to Jenny Sanford.
Attempting to revive his political career, Sanford continued to apologize on his media tour and even told the TODAY show's Savannah Guthrie that he never let down South Carolina taxpayers--even though he was charged with an ethics fine for misuse of taxpayer funds. In March of 2010, Sanford paid the largest ethics fine in state history of $74,000 to resolve ethics charges with his campaign spending and travel and $36,498 to cover the investigation and other commission costs.