In Tuesday’s primary, staunchly socially conservative South Carolina Republicans will decide if they want to vote for a former governor who four years ago lied about taking a hike on the Appalachian Trail, when in reality he was jetting south of the border to conduct an extramarital affair in Argentina.
Mark Sanford, who is widely favored to finish first in a crowded field featuring 15 other Republicans, paid the largest ethics fine in South Carolina history — $70,000. He was also censured by the state legislature and managed to avoid impeachment.
If Sanford doesn’t get more than 50 percent of the vote, he will contend in a runoff election with the second-place finisher on April 2. If Sanford survives the primary, he will run against likely Democratic candidate Elizabeth Colbert Busch, sister of Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert, in the general election on May 7 to fill the 1st congressional district seat held by Tim Scott, who resigned to take Jim DeMint’s Senate seat after he became president of right-wing think tank The Heritage Foundation.
Roll Call cites GOP insiders as saying the top contenders for the second spot are attorney Curtis Bostic, state Sen. Larry Grooms, former state Sen. John Kuhn, state Rep. Chip Limehouse and economics teacher Robert Edward “Teddy” Turner IV, the son of media mogul Ted Turner.
Perhaps the most interesting challenger to the three-term congressman is Turner, a conservative who has distanced himself from his famously liberal father and stepmother, Jane Fonda. According to a story in Politico, “Turner the candidate is anti-tax, opposes same-sex marriage and questions whether global warming is real. In other words, everything his billionaire father is not.”
“That’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room. It’s a little bit of a challenge to convince folks that you’re conservative,” said Turner.
The Christian evangelical Sanford has been talking about his affair and playing the politics of forgiveness with Palmetto State voters. He has been specifically upfront about his faith, as in the campaign ad below, in which he says, “I’ve experienced how none of us go through life without mistakes. But in their wake, we can learn a lot about grace, a God of second chances and be the better for it. In that light, I humbly step forward and ask for your help in changing Washington.”
Photo: Columbia Free Times
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