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Mark Sanford: Don’t Call It A Comeback!

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Two days after Easter, former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford continued his rise from the political grave … with his “soul mate” at his side for the resurrection.

The scandal-scarred former chief executive – whose political career was thought to be over in the wake of a disastrous 2009 sex scandal – claimed the GOP nomination for South Carolina’s first congressional district Tuesday night with a surprisingly big win over “Republican” rival Curtis Bostic. Joining him on stage during his victory celebration? Maria Belen Chapur – his Latin lover turned fiancée.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Sanford enjoyed a commanding 57-43 percent lead over Bostic – a former Charleston County councilman with a penchant for big government and tall tales.

2013 GOP FIRST DISTRICT RUNOFF RESULTS

MARK SANFORD – 25,978 (57 percent) *WINNER
CURTIS BOSTIC – 19,944 (43 percent)

That margin surprised us for a couple of reasons …

First, the GOP runoff for this seat was always considered Sanford’s “danger zone” given his high disapproval ratings – even among Republican voters. In fact his consultants acknowledged as much in a story we wrote two months ago assessing his chances. Second, turnout throughout the first district was reportedly very low – which usually benefits a grassroots-focused candidate like Bostic. Also, with endorsements from the likes of Rick Santorum and James Dobson, Bostic had a virtual monopoly on social conservative voters – who don’t do “low turnout.”

For these and other reasons, our founding editor was predicting a narrow Bostic win – even though this website offered a grudging (and controversial) endorsement of Sanford.

Of course the battle is far from over for the “Luv Gov,” who is running to recapture the congressional seat he held from 1995-2001. In fact he’s facing a formidable Democratic opponent next month in the form of Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, sister of comedian Stephen Colbert. In fact a pair of polls taken prior to the GOP runoff showed Colbert-Busch enjoying a slim lead over Sanford in spite of the first district’s strong Republican lean.

“I look forward to a vigorous campaign that focuses on creating jobs, balancing our country’s budget and choosing an independent-minded leader who shares the values of the great people of South Carolina,” Colbert Busch said in a statement following Sanford’s win. “As a businesswoman, I will use my experience to cut waste in Washington, lower tax rates so small businesses can create jobs and do the people of South Carolina proud as their representative.”

Colbert-Busch also wasted no time in punching at Sanford – blasting him for opposing the Violence Against Women Act during his time in Congress.

Her spokesman said that on “issue after issue,” Sanford “doesn’t reflect the values of South Carolina.”

Meanwhile in a statement SCGOP chairman Chad Connelly congratulated Sanford on his win and bashed Colbert-Busch – whom he referred to as “LuLu” – as an  “overpaid liberal educrat who is out of touch with Lowcountry values.”

Looks like the battle is on …

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