Mark Sanford’s Comeback Win in South Carolina, a Time to Forgive

Exceeding all expectations, the former governor and Appalachian-trail hiker regained his old Congressional seat, whipping Elizabeth Colbert Busch by nine points.

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RANDALL HILL / REUTERS

Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford celebrates his victory in the South Carolina first district congressional race at Liberty Tap Room in Mount Pleasant, S.C., on May 7, 2013.

Now Mark Sanford will be the one who has to forgive. Exceeding all expectations, the former governor and Appalachian-trail hiker regained his old Congressional seat, whipping Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch by nine points in a May 7 special election.

His victory seemed so unlikely three weeks ago — when a report emerged that his ex-wife Jenny had filed a complaint that he violated their divorce agreement by showing up at her house without permission — that the National Republican Congressional Committee pulled its cash from his race. Local Republicans fled whenever reporters asked if they supported him.

Sanford was easy to underestimate. Political comebacks following flamboyant extramarital affairs are rare;  he took out an ad in the newspaper comparing his campaign to the Alamo in ways that didn’t make sense. His few boosters didn’t help much: Cheating website AshleyMadison.com put his face on a billboard; Larry Flynt donated $2,600 to Sanford “because no one has done more to expose the sexual hypocrisy of traditional values in America today.” “I’m outnumbered right now,” he said in his Alamo ad, “but will fight to the end toward freedom and financial sanity in Washington so important to sustaining it.”  But Sanford overcame it all, partly just by working harder.  On the last day of the campaign, Sanford made ten stops; Colbert Busch didn’t make any.

Sure, having Sanford in the House is another target in the Democrats’ accusations of a war on women. Still, it was dumb of the GOP to abandon Sanford because  South Carolina’s first district is way red and Sanford dominated the primary.

Sanford says he’s learned a lot about forgiveness and accepting other’s selfish choices. “After you’ve been through a complete cratering in life, you learn to let it go,” he said. The GOP better hope so, because he’s going to be around for a while.

This article has been updated 

 

48 comments
tonstep71
tonstep71

the people voted for the fiscal conservative its good for the country so he made a mistake he is not blaming anyone  like h. clinton the right wing is after bill look at big D obama ethics none self-importance big yes, no morals. senator mendez play with litle girls  congressman wiener barny franks  i wish congressman sanford well to stop big federal goverment and help balance the budget

Onepatriot
Onepatriot

I don't think this vote was as much for Sanford as much as it was against Obama.  These people in the south have long memories and don't want Obama in the whitehouse, and will do nothing to give him a majority in the house.  They would rather see our country limping along in the gridlock we have coming out of Washington.  What a shame on them.

edzach
edzach

The people of South Carolina have apparently got what they deserved, an opportunistic politician who lets his little man do the thinking.  

samziam
samziam

A comment made by a South Carolina political consultant may transcend all the post-election analysis: "Even Jesus running as a Democrat in this district would have a difficult time being elected."  Sanford says he is "an imperfect man saved by God's grace" [as if "God" is really patrolling these waters]. No, he was saved by the "R" after his name on the ballot. Democrats are a low form of life in South Carolina--and, with the GOP lock on the state legislature and governorship, it's likely to stay that way for a generation.

babycheeks
babycheeks

I am a Christian. Sanford nor any other politician speaks for me. So get off the evangelical bashing. Both Democrats and Republican's share in the hypocrisy that rules in Washington. It will be interesting to see if Anthony Wiener runs and gets the nomination in New York. I consider him to be the mirror image of Sanford on the liberal side. Perverse, narcissistic, and without respect for women. If he runs well, what will the liberals say about him? I do not know the words but the spirit will be positive, I am sure. The only hope for this country is for the voter to rise about partisan politics and demand selfless leadership. Ultimately we are the root of the problem.

SixSixSix
SixSixSix

Gee, a white gerrymandered district delivered again. The gloating about getting away with everything through "gawd's grace" was totally tacky. This why Christians have zero moral authority, zero moral credibility, and demonstrate zero morality period. Nothing like betraying the public interest and then flogging your mistress in public as "gawd's work." They just rally around each other when rediculous transgressions occur and condemn all others without relief who are not members of the cult of "believers"". You may have a religion, but don't put on airs about understanding the first thing about morality or ethics. Maybe the mess in this country is because it is too true this is one nation under that perverse notion of "gawd".

Sparrow55
Sparrow55

Ha Ha Ha.....the people in South Carolina's 1st District just elected Marco San Fordez, the secret Argentine Peronist.  Should have checked his birth certificate before you went to the voting booth!   

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Looking forward to the next Colbert Report.

tommyudo
tommyudo

A perfect representative for a state and city that fired the first shot in The War Of Southern Agression. It's a shame that SC was ever let back into the Union. Although, with Sanford, the party of "family values" has given a wonderful campaign gift to the Dems.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

And in two days, Sanford has to appear in court for trespassing charges.  This is a man who was such a terrible candidate that the RNC even gave up on him.

Way to go South Carolina, I'm sure you won't regret this at all.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

It's the party of family values.  What are they again?

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

A South Carolina district that hasn't elected a Democrat in over thirty years and went for Mitt Romney by 18% elects a Republican?? Color me shocked.

KT was there covering the race and said that Colbert Busch didn't run a very good race, not much enthusiasm. She didn't say it, but someone else commented that all CB brought was "I'm not him" and you need more than that to win a lopsided district.

GeneAmbeau
GeneAmbeau

So now South Carolina has truly lived down to their potential.  

notsacredh
notsacredh

No coffee until I get my blood test at 9. I'm in hell.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

Congratulations, South Carolina. You have elected the leaders you deserve.

notsacredh
notsacredh

On the plus side, if somebody tells Mark to take a hike, he gets a chub.

bobell
bobell

A time to forgive? Tell that to Jenny Sanford. Tell that to the few sentient South Carolinians who understand that this clown spent their tax money hiking the Appalachian Trail.

This is a blog. Writers are entitled to have opinions.  This "on the one hand, but on the other hand" crap is just another kind of false equivalence.

As for Sanford, what makes him think God is so interested in him that He has decided to forgive Sanford personally?  What a colossal ego!  To quote the sainted Rick Santorum -- What a snob!

I can't wait to see what Charlie Pierce makes of this.

MrObvious
MrObvious

I find it disgusting that Mark Sanford somehow attributes his win to God forgiving him for his transgressions. Sorry, God had nothing to do with it - it was the few ignorant voters who somehow think it's more important to have a warm rightie body in the house then to elect a good representative for the seat.

gysgt213
gysgt213

Come on. You guys know this guy will be in even more trouble in no time.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

A quote comes to mind “The only way (I’ll lose) is if you catch me in bed with a live man or dead girl”

ptcruiser5850
ptcruiser5850

@SixSixSix Please contact your representative and ask to end the "Voting rights Act" and end the racial gerrymandering.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@SirDonQuixotic 

Mark Sanford will work hard to obstruct any chances for a robust progression forward. He won't be a trailblazer politically, but he's sure going to drill his voters.

bryanfred1
bryanfred1

Who doesn't make a single campaign appearance the last days before an election?

SixSixSix
SixSixSix

@sacredh Whaa? Are they suspicious you have a caffeine addiction? You need to move to state where caffeine is legal even if the Feds might bust you with more than a cup. Be careful of Ventes, that's right on the border line. Good luck.

Sparrow55
Sparrow55

@sacredh I feel your pain.  I had a physical last week at 11:30.  I couldn't eat or drink anything (besides water) before then.  That was the earliest the doctor could schedule me.  As soon as the exam was over, I had a huge lunch and lots of coffee.  

gysgt213
gysgt213

@sacredh Psst. I know a way you can beat that blood test.  There are ways to get clean blood.

bobell
bobell

@sacredh That's a plus?  Maybe for Mark Sanford. Somehow I doubt it mattered to the voters. (From the result, it appears that nothing mattered to the voters except the "(R)" after his name on the ballot.)

edzach
edzach

@bobell Beware politicians who think God personally blows in their ear.  Once they begin to believe that, they believe they can do anything because they are blessed, and become little more than TV preachers with feet of clay.

BarbaraLogan
BarbaraLogan

@bobell Actually, Sanford went nowhere near the Appalachian Trail. It doesn't extend to Argentina. He hiked his ass to Argentina, using taxpayer money, to visit his mistress. He also neglected to tell anyone that he was leaving, where he was going, how to get in touch with him, then lied to all and said he had been "hiking on the Appalachian Trail. I, unfortunately, live in SC and voted for Elizabeth Colbert Busch. I would have voted for a chimpanzee rather than Sanford. She did not run a very agressive campaign, sorry to say. I really thought she had a good chance to win, but I tend to be an optimist. I am now officially embarrassed to be living in South Carolina. On the positive side, I won't be here forever, although the 12 years that I have had to live here sure seem like forever.

notsacredh
notsacredh

Or wearing nipple pinching clothespins while sporting a rainbow colored tube top, shocking pink leatherette hot pants and heavy makeup that wasn't tastefully applied. Then again, it is the deep south. 

Sparrow55
Sparrow55

@MrObvious @SirDonQuixotic Sanford won the election, but it's a pyrrhic victory.  He's going to find out very quickly nobody outside of his district is going to let him off the hook for his "extracurricular activities."  Every time he opens his mouth on any topic, people will label Sanford as the guy with the Argentine mistress.  Instead of forgiveness, he's about to become the joke he so richly deserves to be.       

notsacredh
notsacredh

It's just for insurance to make sure I don't have cancer or HIV. But how can you get clean blood?

notsacredh
notsacredh

Sure it's a plus. South Carolina is a very forgiving state.

BarbaraLogan
BarbaraLogan

@sacredh bobell is right, that is New Orleans style. SC is part of the ultra-conservative, right wing Deep South. I've lived in SC for the past 12 long years. I am more than ready move on and get as far away from here as I can. Sanford is a man who doesn't know the meaning of "ethics", who has no intergrity, no morals, no shame, and an exaggerated sense of self-importance. He feels that he is above the law, and that rules don't apply to him. BUT! He's a Republican so the ignorant southern right-wing conservatives ignored all of that. Ignored the fact that he betrayed the trust of the residents of SC and is guilty of dereliction of duty along with all the other charges. They elected him anyway. What a sad, sad commentary on the mentality of South Carolina's voters.

BarbaraLogan
BarbaraLogan

@sacredh The deep, ultra-conservative Deep South. As bobell said, it's not New Orleans!

bobell
bobell

@sacredh Aw, c'mon. It's South Carolina, not New Orleans.

Too bad.

SixSixSix
SixSixSix

@sacredh Ah, but they feel for you, even in the dark, especially in the dark.

gysgt213
gysgt213

@sacredh It involves some vampire friends of mine.  Really nice guys.

SixSixSix
SixSixSix

@sacredh Very forgiving of white guys who peddle religion on their sleeves like snake oil salesmen. In fact it helps to handle a few snakes...

Ohiolib
Ohiolib

@bobell IU've also heard it referred to as the war of Northern Agression. Seriously. Which is kinda funny, if you google "Shelling of Fort Sumter"

notsacredh
notsacredh

The south will never get over us electing a black man as President either (twice).

bobell
bobell

@sacredh You mean The War of Nothern Aggression, right?

(During my youth in Texas I occasionally heard someone speak of The War of Northern Aggression, but it was clearly intended to be humorous.  To the NRA it seems to be no joke.)

notsacredh
notsacredh

Except when it comes to losing the Civil war. They're still a little ticked over that. Damned Yankees.