When former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford finished first in Tuesday’s Republican congressional primary, many media reports suggested that Sanford had effectively won the GOP nomination.
However, before Sanford can take on Elizabeth Colbert Busch — sister of Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert — in the May 7 special election to fill the First District seat vacated by Tim Scott’s appointment to the Senate, Sanford must first defeat Curtis Bostic in an April 2 runoff for the Republican nomination.
“There’s a very strong anti-Sanford sentiment out there,” Bostic said Wednesday, describing many in the coastal Lowcountry district as being ready to vote for “anybody but Sanford.”
There were 16 candidates on Tuesday’s GOP ballot and Sanford got 37 percent of the vote. Bostic got 13 percent, but during a conference call Wednesday with members of the National Bloggers Club, the former Charleston city councilman said he believes that in the runoff he can consolidate the majority who voted against Sanford in the primary.
“We’ve got strong evangelical support,” said Bostic, 49, describing himself as a “constitutional conservative” who is “pro-life, pro-Second Amendment and pro-Israel.”
Bostic’s campaign Web site is called StopSpending.com – a popular Tea Party theme – and features a large photo of the candidate with his wife Jenni and their five children.
Bostic’s wife is featured in a campaign TV ad, explaining that “in 2002, our commitment to life was seriously tested” when she became pregnant after undergoing cancer treatments. “Doctors … warned us of the possibility of serious complications,” Jenni Bostic says in the ad, while an intrumental version of “Amazing Grace” plays in the background. “They made the argument that we already had four wonderful healthy children and the pregnancy could cause my cancer to return. Curtis and I trusted God, and chose life.” The ad ends were her being joined by the couple’s 10-year-old son.
Bostic’s emphasis on faith and family offers South Carolina’s evangelical voters a sharp contrast with Sanford, who in 2009 was caught in an extramarital affair that made national headlines. Once touted as a prospective GOP presidential contender, Sanford mysteriously disappeared for nearly a week in June 2009 after telling his staff that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Sanford subsequently revealed that he had been in Argentina, where he was having an affair with María Belén Chapur. “The incident led to scrutiny of Sanford’s travel as governor and a record $74,000 state ethics fine,” the Charleston Post and Courier reports. Sanford’s wife divorced him in 2010. Alex Isenstadt of Politico wrote Wednesday:
The last thing former Gov. Mark Sanford needs the 1st Congressional District race in South Carolina to be about is family values.
Yet his opponent in the April 2 Republican runoff – a Christian conservative activist who has put his picture-perfect family front and center of his insurgent campaign – threatens to create just such a contrast.
With less than two weeks remaining until the April 2 runoff vote, Bostic is reportedly hoping to receive major endorsements in coming days, but Wednesday was unable to confirm rumors that he might be endorsed by Sen. Scott, a friend from their days together on the Charleston City Council. A debate between Bostic and Sanford is scheduled for Thursday, March 28, in Charleston.