Sanford Likely Front-Runner in S.C. Special Election

January 5, 2013

Mark Sanford
Charleston, in the heart of South Carolina’s 1st District, is a long way from the Appalachian Trail.

That’s good news for former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who looks poised to launch a comeback bid for his old House seat. The Republican looks to be the instant front-runner in the special election to fill the seat of now-Sen. Tim Scott in the coastal, safely Republican district.

Known as a fiscal conservative during his six years in the House and eight years as governor, Sanford is best known nationally for disappearing from the state for days in 2009 and then admitting to an extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina. He had told staff he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

His affair is almost certain to be a thorny issue with socially conservative primary voters but likely not enough to stop him from being one of the top two finishers in the March GOP primary. If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held in April.

“In spite of his negatives, Mark would be almost certain to get enough votes in a crowded field to be in the runoff,” longtime South Carolina GOP consultant Richard Quinn Sr. said . “Of course, winning the runoff is a different matter.”

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