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.