Republican South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford became the second member of Congress to lose re-election after he was ousted by a fellow Republican in a primary Tuesday in his coastal South Carolina House seat.
Sanford conceded to state Rep. Katie Arrington after 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday, telling the crowd that he is a “realist.”
“Based on the number I see, I think that I’ll end up losing this election,” he said.
Arrington had attacked Sanford for his past indiscretions, including an affair he had while serving as governor of South Carolina, in which Sanford said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail but was really in Argentina with the other woman. Sanford is also known for not being sufficiently supportive of President Donald Trump.
Arrington alluded to both issues in a cheeky ad titled “Take a Hike.”
“Mark Sanford and the career politicians cheated on us,” Arrington says in the ad. “Bless his heart — but it’s time for Mark Sanford to take a hike — for real this time.”
Sanford has been an outspoken critic of Trump. In a February 2017 Politico piece, he said Trump has “fanned the flames of intolerance.” He went on to attack Trump’s penchant for lying and distorting facts.
“Our republic was based on reason,” Sanford told Politico. “The Founding Fathers were wed to this notion of reason. It was a reason-based system. And if you go to a point wherein it doesn’t matter, I mean, that has huge implications in terms of where we go next as a society.”
Trump himself tweeted an attack against Sanford late in the day, and endorsed Arrington in the 11th hour. With just hours to go before the polls closed when Trump sent the tweet, it’s unlikely his message was the deciding factor — but it served as a notable warning for members of Congress who defy him.
“Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA,” Trump tweeted at around 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, just a few hours before polls closed. “He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is better off in Argentina. I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in SC, a state I love. She is tough on crime and will continue our fight to lower taxes. VOTE Katie!”
Another Republican who was also critical of Trump, Alabama GOP Rep. Martha Roby, is also at risk of losing re-election. Roby was forced into a July runoff with a fellow Republican who attacked her for abandoning Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. After the Access Hollywood tape dropped, in which Trump bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy,” Roby said she could no longer vote for Trump.
“I cannot look my children in the eye and justify a vote for a man who promotes and boasts about sexually assaulting women,” Roby said after the tape was released.
Sanford, for his part, is now the second member of Congress to lose re-election this cycle. Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.) was the first incumbent to lose re-election this year, after he was defeated in a May 8 primary.