Republican Mark Sanford beats Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in the 2013 South Carolina House 1st District Special Election, with Sanford taking 54 percent of the vote to Colbert's 45 percent.
Mitt Romney won this district by 18 points last fall, but Sanford’s personal history made the seat competitive. Democrats poured money into the race while national Republicans abandoned their candidate, giving Colbert Busch a 5-to-1 advantage in outside spending.
Those ads, and Colbert Busch herself, made an issue out of Sanford’s 2009 disappearance to be with his Argentinean mistress, which led to an ethics investigation into his travel.
In spite of that cash and a trespassing complaint filed by Sanford’s ex-wife before the election, he was gaining momentum. Throughout the race he tied Colbert Busch to national Democrats and emphasized his own fiscal conservatism, an ultimately successful strategy.
“Congratulations to Mark Sanford for winning tonight’s special election,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon. “These results demonstrate just how devastating the policies of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi are for House Democrats in 2014.
Two weeks ago, Sanford was behind Colbert Busch by 9 points, in a PPP poll. Heading into election day the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) showed Sanford leading Colbert Busch by 1 percentage point, or 47% to 46% among likely voters.
"The special election in South Carolina couldn't be much closer," Dean Debnam, president of Public Policy Polling, said in a statement. "At this point it's just a question of whether voters are more put off by Mark Sanford or the Democrats in Washington."
Not exactly quite as close as PPP was hoping, nor polled.
Sanford took it by 9 percentage points with 100% reporting, according to Politico.