The National Republican Congressional Committee will not help the campaign of former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, the Republican nominee in South Carolina’s special congressional election, after they were taken by surprise by a report that Sanford had been charged with trespassing at his ex-wife’s house.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday evening that Sanford had been charged with trespassing at the house of his ex-wife, Jenny Sanford, in February, and that he had been ordered to appear in court in May, two days after the special election.
The news, according to Politico, “blindsided” national Republicans and prompted them to decide not to dedicate any funds to his campaign.
National Review reports that Sanford said he was watching “the second half of the Super Bowl at the beach house with our 14-year-old son because as a father I didn’t think he should watch it alone. Given she was out of town I tried to reach her beforehand to tell her of the situation that had arisen, and met her at the back steps under the light of my cell phone when she returned and told her what had happened.”
The NRCC said “Mark Sanford has proven he knows what it takes to win elections. At this time, the NRCC will not be engaged in this special election.”
Sanford is in a tough race with Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch to replace former Rep. Tim Scott as the representative of South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. Scott is now a senator, having replaced former Sen. Jim DeMint, who retired to become president of the conservative Heritage Foundation. Colbert Busch is the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, and has proven herself a capable fundraiser.
The race is Sanford’s first return to the political spotlight after his gubernatorial term ended mired in scandal after it was revealed that he had left the state and lied about his whereabouts to go see an Argentine woman with whom he was having an affair. She is now his fiance.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee issued a pleased response.
“Mitt Romney won this district by 18 points, so the competiveness of the race proves we can and will compete anywhere when Republicans nominate flawed candidates. Since Republicans in Congress are actually less popular than Mark Sanford in this district, the 119 Republicans in more Democratic seats than this one must be worried about how quickly the NRCC will drop them too,” said DCCC Communications Director Jesse Ferguson.
The Sanford campaign did not respond to request for comment.
Colbert Busch’s campaign declined to comment.
The election is set for May 7.