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Sanford wins: With GOP primary victory, the former gov takes another step on the comeback trail

Mark Sanford will face Elizabeth Colbert-Busch in a South Carolina special election after winning Tuesday's GOP primary.
/ Source: The Last Word

Mark Sanford will face Elizabeth Colbert-Busch in a South Carolina special election after winning Tuesday's GOP primary.

Update: Tuesday, April 2nd, 8:30 p.m.  Former Governor Mark Sanford has won the South Carolina District 1 run-off and will face Democrat Elizabeth Colbert-Busch in the general election. Sanford, the disgraced former governor who quit after disclosing an extra-marital affair, defeated fellow Republican Curtis Bostic.

A new internal poll from the Elizabeth Colbert-Busch campaign showed the Democratic candidate leading former governor Mark Sanford 47 to 44% in the race for South Carolina’s 1st district. But in order for Sanford to face Colbert-Busch in the general election, he had to defeat fellow Republican Curtis Bostic in the primary runoff on Tuesday.

In the same poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners, Colbert-Busch boasts a 9-point lead over Bostic. Her three points on Sanford is within the margin of error.

Sanford and Bostic are the final two in what began as a primary battle of 16 Republican contenders. In the first round, Sanford took 37% of the vote while Bostic won only 13%. Considering that not much has changed since then, Sean Sullivan over at the The Washington Post blog has Sanford “well positioned to win” the Tuesday runoff.

Bostic, a former Charleston County councilman, has had some high-profile endorsements in the lead up to the runoff. Rick Santorum stumped with Bostic around the 1st district last week, and conservative pundit Ann Coulter backed him in light of his opponent’s marital indiscretions. Coulter called Sanford the “Todd Akin of the South.”

Six of the fourteen losing Republican primary challengers now support Sanford, while only one endorses Bostic. Sanford has greater name recognition in the state–though not necessarily positive recognition–and has raised significantly more money than Bostic.

Bostic did go after his opponent’s widely-covered extramarital affair in a debate last Thursday by calling Sanford a “compromised candidate,” but has largely avoided personal attacks. In a second debate on Saturday, Bostic passed up the opportunity to go after Sanford’s affair again.

The debate moderator did broach the subject of Sanford’s infidelity, calling it “the elephant in the room.”

“What I would say is the events of 2009 absolutely represent a failure on my part for which there were and always will be at some level consequences,” Sanford responded. “But that does not mean that because you’ve had a failure on your personal life, that you cannot step back into life again.”

The winner of the primary runoff will face Elizabeth Colbert-Busch in the special election May 7th.