Mark Sanford’s Comeback Faces Another Test
Today, voters in South Carolina’s First Congressional District will have their say over whether or not Mark Sanford has lived down the scandal that seemingly ended his career:
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.
If Sanford wins today, polling shows him leading Colbert Busch outside the margin of error in the Special Election, which is set for May 7th. While it’s hard to predict what will happen in a low-turnout Special Election, Sanford’s history in the district is likely to benefit him greatly.