Mark Sanford, the disgraced former governor of South Carolina, has just won the Republican nomination for an open congressional seat there. He resigned as governor four years ago, after disappearing from office for six days. It turned out he was in Argentina with his mistress, a reporter named Maria Belen Chapur. The legislature tried to impeach him and ended up censoring him. He did not attempt to run for reelection. Sanford is now attempting a comeback, brazenly appearing with Chapur at his side to announce victory in the primary. He is prone to gaffes that keep reminding voters of his infidelity, like thanking his fiancee for her “long suffering” on the campaign. During the primary, he attacked his opponent Curtis Bostic for missing city council meetings as a councilman. Bostic missed those meetings due to his wife's cancer, so it looked like Sanford was criticizing him for taking care of his sick wife. Ouch.
Sanford was able to pull off a GOP primary win due to better name recognition than the other candidates, not because voters have forgiven him. His main challenger in the primary never sent out a mailer to voters reminding them of Sanford's infidelity. Polls show that voters will vote for an infamous candidate simply because they recognize the name, even if they can't remember anything about the candidate.
Sanford will face Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert. Stephen Colbert appeals to Republicans as much as Democrats due to his political satires on The Colbert Report that skewer both the left and the right. Democrats will be able to run a campaign directed at women that hammers the hypocrisy of Sanford's socially conservative political views while at the same time leaving his wife for his mistress.
Within hours after Sanford's victory, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York sent out a fundraising e-mail for Colbert Busch, "This is the same Mark Sanford who, as governor, disappeared from office and used taxpayer money to visit his mistress. With all the issues we are working on, we do not need him in Congress.”
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