Mark Sanford Advances To Runoff In Political Comeback Bid

Former Governor Mark Sanford emerged with the most votes in the Republican Primary for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional Election special election, but he’ll still have to face a runoff in two weeks:

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford advanced Tuesday to a runoff in the Republican contest for an open congressional seat, taking a step toward reviving a political career that was derailed by an extramarital affair while he was governor.

“Are you ready to change things in Washington?” Sanford, flanked by his four sons, asked a boisterous crowd at a restaurant in Charleston’s historic district. “I’m incredibly humbled by the outpouring of support we have seen tonight.”

With all precincts reporting, unofficial results show Sanford received about 37 percent of the vote in the southern coastal district. It was unclear who he would face in the April 2 GOP runoff.

Former Charleston County councilman Curtis Bostic held a slim lead over state Sen. Larry Grooms for second place. But the margin is so narrow, less than one percent, that it will trigger an automatic recount. Teddy Turner, the son of media mogul Ted Turner, trailed Bostic and Grooms.

The eventual Republican candidate will square off in the May 7 general election against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert. She won the Democratic primary for the seat, handily defeating perennial candidate Ben Frasier.

“My pledge is to you. You are my only cause. I will fight to improve your lives and the lives of your children,” Colbert Busch told supporters across town.

With nine candidates in the race, it was inevitable that Sanford would end up having to face a runoff. The question is whether in such an election, where there will likely be even lower turnout than there was yesterday, he’ll be able to pull together a majority considering that some 64% of the people who voted cast their ballot for someone else.


FILED UNDER: 2013 Election, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Stiff competition?

  2. legion says:

    This is why we can’t have a competent government.

  3. edmondo says:

    “Sanford, flanked by his four sons …”

    See, he’s a family man! And the GOP is the party of Family Values. No gays (unless your kid is gay), no abortions (unless your current or former mistress is preggers) and, best of all, no Mexicans (unless you need a gardener or a nanny who works cheap). Those are the values that made America strong!

  4. legion says:

    @edmondo: Hey, don’t forget – the mistress he ran off to see was from Argentina, so he’s got “international experience” too! This guy’s ready to run for President in ’16!

  5. CSK says:

    If he wins the run-off, will Sarah Palin campaign for him? The only other congressional race I know of this year is the one in Massachusetts for the senate seat formerly held by John Kerry, and the Republican candidate there probably won’t want her within 500 miles of Boston.

  6. legion says:


    If he wins the run-off, will Sarah Palin campaign for sleep with him?

    It’s questions like this that we still need InTrade for…

  7. Tyrell says:

    Is there no shame any more? There was a time in this country’s history if a politician or other leader got into some kind of scandal, they would be so ashamed that they would not dare even show their face in public. In some cases, they would actually move way out to the wilderness in a self imposed exile, enforced usually by their families.
    I guess Edwards will be next.