Following the decisive victory of Barack Obama in his 2012 presidential re-election campaign, Sen. Jim DeMint, who used to be the fiercest Tea Party stalwart in the Senate, sent shockwaves in Washington when he announced his imminent resignation from Congress. The decision of South Carolina governor Nikki Haley to replace him with Tim Scott triggered the special election that took place on Tuesday.
After DeMint’s departure from Congress, Governor Haley appointed Tea Party favorite Scott to finish the remainder of his six-year term. Scott’s appointment led to a mad dash to replace him. There were a number of candidates vying to win the seat. Despite all these candidates, Mark Sanford, the controversy-addled former governor of South Carolina, managed to come out on top in the special election.
The special election was a highly contested affair on the Republican side. There were 16 candidates who were trying to get the nomination. The strongest candidate was Sanford, whose high name recognition was valuable assett. Just years ago, Sanford was a respected conservative governor whose name was often mentioned as a possible presidential candidate for the 2012 campaign. His political career came to an abrupt end when it was revealed that Sanford was having an affair with a woman from Argentina. The primary win by Sanford could help revive his political career.
Although Sanford won the election at roughly 37%, he fell way short of the 50% required in order to avoid a runoff. Thus, a runoff election will be necessary to determine who will be facing the Democratic winner in the general election. Despite his inability to win the nomination outright, Sanford will be still favored in the runoff election, which will take place on April 2, 2013.
On the Democratic side, the nomination was not as hotly contested as the Republicans. Elizabeth Colbert-Busch quickly became the favorite to win the Democratic primary. She is the sister of Stephen Colbert, the host of Comedy Central's popular The Colbert Report. Since she launched her campaign, Colbert-Busch received strong support from her well-known brother. This backing gave a big boost to her candidacy. Unlike Sanford, Colbert-Busch won the Democratic primary in a landslide.
The general election will be held on May 7. Sanford, who is expected to win the runoff, will be the clear favorite to win back the Congressional seat, which he represented from 1994 to 2001. Although Colbert-Busch won the Democratic primary handily, she will have a difficult time winning the Congressional seat in the general election because it is a very conservative district. Hence, Sanford will be in a strong position to relaunch his political career.