comments_image Comments

Scandal-tainted ex-governor wins US House seat

Mark Sanford throws up his arms after casting his vote in a special election, May 7, 2013, in Charleston
Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford throws up his arms after casting his vote in a special election, May 7, 2013, in Charleston, South Carolina. The scandal-plagued Sanford completed a stunning political resurrection, defeating the sister of famed

A scandal-plagued South Carolina ex-governor completed a stunning political resurrection, defeating the sister of famed political satirist Stephen Colbert to win back his old US House seat.

Republican Mark Sanford had trailed his Democratic rival Elizabeth Colbert Busch in polls a week before the special election in the southeastern state, but the race narrowed in the final days, and Sanford pulled out a 54-45 percent win, according to official results.

"We gave it a heck of a fight," Colbert Busch said on Twitter about the prospects of becoming the first Democrat to win the district in some 30 years.

Sanford was once considered a possible Republican presidential candidate, but his career derailed in 2009 after disastrous mis-steps while governor.

After lying about an alleged affair, he admitted the relationship publicly while in office, then abandoned his wife for his mistress. He was also forced to pay an ethics fine.

But the politically comatose Sanford mounted a comeback, portraying himself as a changed man, and fought his way to victory in a 16-way Republican primary.

That set up a showdown with Colbert-Busch for the seat that was left vacant when South Carolina's governor appointed congressman Tim Scott to the US Senate.

As recently as three weeks before the special election, it was learned that Sanford's ex-wife had filed a court complaint alleging he had trespassed on her property.

The national Republican Party went quiet on Sanford, perhaps sensitive to accusations it might be dismissing women voters by backing a candidate whose adultery had been tabloid fodder.

And as recently as Tuesday morning, Speaker of the House John Boehner declined to say whether he would welcome Sanford to the Republican caucus with open arms, should he win.

"We don't get to choose who they are," he said. "Their electorate gets to decide who they are."

Share