The National Republican Congressional Committee has withdrawn all support from from former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s bid for a House seat in a special election to be held later this month.
Sanford’s ex-wife Jenny filed court papers indicating that he had violated the terms of their divorce by trespassing the grounds of their beach front property. The AP report says that the court papers indicate that the former governor trespassed “several times.”
Sanford claimed that he went to the beach house on Super Bowl Sunday to watch the game with his son and was unable to reach his ex-wife who was out of town at the time. He offered no explanation for any other violations of the settlement decree.
That revelation prompted the National Republican Congressional Committee to pull its support from the campaign Wednesday, a day after The Associated Press obtained court documents detailing the accusations from Sanford’s ex-wife, Jenny.
The group, which had conducted polling and provided additional resources to the campaign, was blindsided by the news and said it wouldn’t provide more funding or pay for television advertising because officials worried Sanford would have difficulty making inroads with women voters. That blow effectively leaves Sanford on his own with three weeks to go before Election Day.
The latest Federal Election Commission reports still show that Sanford had $272,000 on hand to about $210,000 for Elizabeth Colbert Busch, his opponent in the race for a vacant seat in the state’s 1st Congressional District.
“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,” said Andrea Bozek, an NRCC spokeswoman. The decision was first reported by Politico.
Gibbs Knotts, chairman of the political science department at the College of Charleston, said it’s not an insurmountable problem if Sanford can stick to his small-government talking points and appeal to the GOP base.
“I don’t think this is fatal for Sanford. It’s just a bad day for Sanford,” Knotts said. “He needs to be out there talking about the size of government, the federal budget deficit and the themes he did very well talking about during the primary.”
The NRCC made its announcement just hours after Sanford issued a statement explaining why he was at his ex-wife’s home on Feb. 3. Jenny Sanford filed a complaint the next day, saying his visit on that night and several other occasions violated their divorce settlement.
Mitt Romney won 62% of the vote in the SC 1st as did now Senator Tim Scott. Scott was named by Governor Nikki Haley to fill the unexpired term of Senator Jim DeMint who retired from the Senate to run the Heritage Foundatio. This necessitated the special election where Sanford is opposed by Democrat Colbert-Busch, sister of Comedian Stephen Colbert.
With such a decided Republican advantage and turnout for special elections being notoriously sparse, Sanford could still eke out a victory. But even GOP women are asking questions about his stability and that doesn’t bode well for election day.