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Mark Sanford Wins Election To Congress

Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford won some measure of political redemption tonight with his defeat of Elizabeth Colbert Busch to represent South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District in Congress:

Republican Mark Sanford has defeated Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District special election. The victory caps a dramatic comeback by the scandal-tinged former governor, whose political career was left for dead four years ago when he was caught lying about an extramarital affair.

With three quarters of precincts reporting, Sanford led 54 percent to 45 percent for Colbert Busch, and the Associated Press called the race.

Sanford, waging a bid for political redemption three years after his fall from grace, went into Election Day with a head of steam. Polls showed the former governor closing on and then eclipsing Colbert Busch, a Clemson University administrator and the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, who just a couple of weeks ago looked poised for a major upset.

The former governor, who in 2009 admitted an affair after infamously claiming to be hiking on the Appalachian Trail, spent the final day in a frenzied dash across South Carolina’s Lowcountry. Once regarded as a viable potential presidential contender, Sanford had said the race would be his last if he fell short.

“I think you can go back in and you can ask for a second chance in a political sense once,” he said Tuesday after casting his ballot, according to the Associated Press. “I’ve done that, and we’ll see what the voters say.”

Colbert Busch exuded confidence despite the momentum shift.

“I obviously feel very positive, very encouraged. We are all very excited,” she said at her polling station, per the AP. “I’m predicting victory.”

In the end, the pre-election polls, the last of which showed the race as being too close to call, weren’t even close. Sanford beat Colbert Busch by a margin of 54.3% to 45.2% and won each of the counties that make up the district. The margin of victory can be attributed, I think, both to the makeup of the district and the fact that Sanford was able to successfully change the narrative of the campaign from one that focused on the issues to one that focused on national politics. Once that occurred, the natural Republican tendencies started coming through.

There aren’t many national lessons in this race. Even if Colbert Busch had won, she likely wouldn’t have made it past the November 2014 elections. Sanford’s victory, on the other hand, continues a history of Republican control of this seat that stretches back now for 33 years. The fact that he won is, in the end, not all that big a surprise.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. HelloWorld! says:

    I’m disgusted. I’ll be disgusted when Weiner gets re-elected too. Oh well, we deserve the democracy we get.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  2. Surreal American says:

    Meh. Had Colbert-Busch won, the seat would have gone back to the GOP column next year anyway.

    The only positive I can see from a Sanford win is that it reinforces my continued practice of ignoring any lectures from the Party of Family Values and Personal Responsibility.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 3

  3. mantis says:

    Another victory for family values!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  4. Surreal American says:

    @HelloWorld!:

    Key difference between Weiner winning office and Sanford winning is that Democrats are irredeemably immoral while Republicans are “forgiven.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  5. Surreal American says:

    @mantis:

    And personal responsibility!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  6. rodney dill says:

    How Clintonesque.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  7. Smooth Jazz says:

    “In the end, the pre-election polls, the last of which showed the race as being too close to call, weren’t even close.”

    Well, Terrific. Didn’t OTB favorite pollster, Daily KOS/PPP, have this tied a few days ago after showing the Liberal up 10 points last week? Great job PPP. You really nailed this one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 13

  8. Smooth Jazz says:

    “Another victory for family values! ”

    No, this wasn’t about family values. This was a Liberal getting thier butt kicked. Just wait until that ObamaCare train wreck disaster starts barrelling down the tracks by early 2014. This spanking by a flawed candidate is the tip of the iceberg as a precursor to the 2014 mid terms.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 21

  9. Surreal American says:

    @Smooth Jazz:

    ROMNEY SURGE!!!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 1

  10. mantis says:

    Keep unskewing them polls, Kenny!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  11. Markos Moulitsas Parrot says:

    Family values. Squawk. Gimme a cracker.
    Family values. Squawk. Gimme a cracker.
    Family values. Squawk. Gimme a cracker.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  12. dennis says:

    “Once that occurred, the natural Republican tendencies started coming through.”

    Yeah, the tendency to be stupid. Dumba** South Carolina, dude . . .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  13. dennis says:

    @HelloWorld!:

    Exactly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. Surreal American says:

    @Markos Moulitsas Parrot:

    Family values. Squawk. Gimme a cracker.

    Wouldn’t that be akin to cannibalism in your case?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. dennis says:

    @Smooth Jazz:

    God Almighty. Don’t you guys get tired of yourselves?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  16. bill says:

    funny, all that money they wasted running against him. guess the “star power” had little effect on the local populace?! oh well, America is all about 2nd chances, hope he doesn’t blow this one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 6

  17. Zandar says:

    The real winner here: decades of gerrymandering that ensure Republicans have a double digit cushion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  18. george says:

    It would have gone to the GOP next election anyway. The good part is that it should more or less lay to rest the Family Value issue.

    And I’d say that’s a good thing. Numerous politicians have cheated on their spouses, its not something I care about when I vote. And I think its not an issue for many voters, even Republican voters.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  19. gVOR08 says:

    Proving once again, IOKIYAR.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  20. edmondo says:

    Numerous politicians have cheated on their spouses, its not something I care about when I vote. And I think its not an issue for many voters, even Republican voters.

    Actually, I use a different standard. If their spouse can’t trust them when they are alone in a room with another person, why should I?

    If they screw around on the person who supposedly means more to them than anyone else, what chance do his constituents have when a lobbyist comes knocking with a fat bag of cash?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  21. dennis says:

    @edmondo:

    “Actually, I use a different standard. If their spouse can’t trust them when they are alone in a room with another person, why should I?

    If they screw around on the person who supposedly means more to them than anyone else, what chance do his constituents have when a lobbyist comes knocking with a fat bag of cash?”

    THIS.RIGHT.HERE. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  22. Rob in CT says:

    1) I don’t really care, as this was not a seat likely to be held by a Dem for long (and said Dem would have to do silly things like pretend she/he didn’t like the ACA and whatnot in order to win)

    2) The thing about Sanford’s affair, for me, wasn’t the fact that he cheated on his wife. I don’t really care about that, though I find it to be morally distasteful. I *do* care about the trip to Brazil or whatever while he was supposed to be doing his job. I also care, a little, about the IOKIYAR factor.

    this wasn’t about family values. This was a Liberal getting thier butt kicked

    That pretty much says it all. It’s quite revealing, really.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  23. stonetools says:

    This should lay to rest once and for all the claim that the Republican Party is the party of “family values” . That should be a dead letter from here on in. THAT’s the significance of this election. As such, this takes away an element of Republican propaganda which ( while ineffective to the usual readers of this blog) had great meaning for many voters. The claim that the Republican Party was the MORAL party was once a significant advantage for Republicans; now, that advantage has evaporated.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  24. Caj says:

    Just goes to show what a bunch of hypocrites those bible thumpers are in South Carolina! Holier than thou values! Mark Sandford part of the so called family values party! Morals of an ally cat wins over an upstanding citizen in Elizabeth Colbert Busch! Absoutely amazing!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  25. fred says:

    SC must be the most illiterate state in the union and voters in Sandford’s district the greatest hypocrites ever. They’ll all tell you they are christians and have moral and normal values they live by, but their votes say that is a lie.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  26. When Sanford got caught trespassing at his ex-wife’s house, he sewed up the abusive drunk redneck in a wife-beater t-shirt demographic, which is a crucial voting block in South Carolina.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  27. @Caj:

    Just goes to show what a bunch of hypocrites those bible thumpers are in South Carolina!

    Nah, he was a perfectly consistent representation of their “values”. His creepy stalker habit of going into his wife’s house without permission shows his commitment to having women submit to their husbands, no matter what those liberal secular justice on the court say about it. Sanford knows she belongs to him forever, divorce or no divorce.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  28. Caj says:

    Funny how Mark Sandford couldn’t wait to impeach Bill Clinton! The brass neck of these Republicans is absolutely astounding! Still, they all live in a parallel universe, one where they can do no wrong and Democrats can do nothing right. You can’t get much lower than a snake and that’s exactly where Republicans are.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  29. Neo says:

    @Markos Moulitsas Parrot: Perhaps, this shows that Americans weariness with Busch rates higher than “family values”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. george says:

    Actually, I use a different standard. If their spouse can’t trust them when they are alone in a room with another person, why should I?

    I can understand that view. For my part, I assume that none of them (of any party) can be trusted. So I base my vote on is what legislation they actually pass (or try to pass) rather than what they say, because I think almost every one of them will say whatever is convenient at the time.

    I apologize in advance to the three politicians in North America (whoever they might be) who actually are honest.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  31. stonetools says:

    Excellent New Yorker article on the election. Excerpt:

    On its face, there might seem to be something lamentable in Sanford’s political resurrection. But as Scott Lemieux argues, there’s actually something worth celebrating in Sanford’s victory, whether you like his politics or not: given a choice between voting based on ideology or on scandal, the District’s residents opted for ideology.

    The article goes on to say flatly that ideology, demographics, and maybe gerrymandering determine elections, not quality of candidates. That’s sobering, but we need that kind of cold-eyed realism in political analysis going forward. One thing is clear: LBJ was wrong. South Carolina will be lost to Democrats for much more than a generation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  32. Rob in CT says:

    Krugman has made the same point.

    And I agree with them. I’m happy to beat the hypocrisy drum when GOPers try to claim they’re all morally superior and sh*t, but in reality people should vote based on ideology/policy, especially when the parties are so clearly ideologically sorted.

    If we were in the “we’re all Keynesians now” stage of US history, voting based on “character” might make some sense (this presumes, of course, that you actually know the content of a politician’s character, which is typically false – better to assume they’re pretty scummy). But now? It makes no sense at all.

    So, back to what our friend Smooth Jazz said: this was about kicking a liberal’s ass. It was ideological. Which is as it should be. They chose poorly, but they chose properly :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  33. stonetools says:

    Also too, remember Obama’s rhetoric about how there is no red America, no blue America, only United States of America? Let’s recognize it for what it is-dead wrong, pie-in-the-sky idealism.
    There really is a red America, and they don’t want blue-America-policy people representing them. They’ll take a morally corrupt conservative over even a good liberal. These are the facts.
    Liberals lend to reject this. Over at Balloon Juice, they’re people claiming that Colbert Busch lost because she didn’t proclaim the pure liberal gospel. Nope, she lost because South Carolina doesn’t want ANY KIND of liberal representing them., and most commenters understood this.
    There is also a blue America. Run the same race in Maryland or California, and Sanford would have had his a$$ kicked.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  34. So this means one of two things:

    1) South Carolina is so stupid that they will show their hypocracy by voting for a family values conservative that took state funds – out of their pockets, you would think the people who cry about their taxes so much would realize this – to screw his whore, or

    2) They voted in Mark Sanford because something something Pelosi.

    My word. I seriously am starting to think that people get dumber once they go south of the Virginia border. LIke, there’s a magnetic line where the IQ goes down 50 points.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0