Mark Sanford is one step closer to his political comeback.
The former South Carolina governor took the most votes in the Republican primary for Congress in South Carolina’s First Congressional District, and will head to a runoff with former Charleston County councilman and attorney Curtis Bostic.
The winner of that runoff will face Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, who easily won the Democratic nomination Tuesday.
Bostic narrowly edged out state Sen. Larry Grooms by a few hundred votes. The margin was close enough to prompt discussion of a recount, and initially, Grooms consultant Hogan Gidley told The Daily Caller that the state senator was “not stepping aside [and] not conceding.” But early Wednesday morning, Grooms conceded in a Facebook post, congratulating Sanford and Bostic.
There will be an automatic recount to determine the second place finisher under state law, but Grooms made clear in a statement that he was stepping aside.
“To the possibility of a recount, as I understand it, the state Election Commission will begin an automatic recount as outlined by state law – and I will be the ‘official’ third place finisher in the race,” he said. “I wish Gov. Mark Sanford and Curtis Bostic all the best.”
The race to fill the seat vacated by former Rep. Tim Scott, who was appointed to the Senate when former Sen. Jim DeMint stepped down to head the conservative Heritage Foundation, drew a large and colorful cast of characters. Sixteen Republicans jumped into the ring.
Sanford, with near-universal name recognition in the district and a large campaign fund, was the front-runner from the start.
As a congressman, Sanford represented the same district he is currently running to represent. He exited the political scene at the end of his gubernatorial term in 2011, after it was revealed that he had left the state for seven days to visit his Argentine mistress, to whom he is now engaged.