POLITICS

Elizabeth Colbert Busch Loses South Carolina Special Election

05/07/2013 09:21 pm ET | Updated Jul 07, 2013
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(Adds concession by Colbert Busch)

By Harriet McLeod

CHARLESTON, S.C., May 7 (Reuters) - Republican former Governor Mark Sanford made a political comeback on Tuesday, rebounding from a sex scandal to beat Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch in a congressional race to represent coastal South Carolina.

With 99 percent of the results in, Sanford had 54 percent of the vote against 45 percent for Colbert Busch, who conceded the election.

Sanford regained the First Congressional District seat he held from 1995 to 2001 before serving two terms as governor, the latter of which was marred when he tried to hide an affair by saying falsely that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Colbert Busch, a businesswoman and sister of television satirist Stephen Colbert, lost her first bid for office after leading Sanford in a poll two weeks before the special election.

No Democrat has represented the district since the early 1980s.

The personality driven special election, which gained national attention, was held to fill the seat vacated by Republican Tim Scott when he was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Governor Nikki Haley in December.

Sanford, 52, trailed Colbert Busch by 9 points two weeks ago in a poll taken soon after revelations that Sanford's ex-wife had accused him of trespassing at her home. Sanford said he went there to watch the Super Bowl with one of their four sons.

Sanford also was the subject of attack ads that accused him of deserting the state in 2009 when the then-married governor tried to hide a six-day visit with his mistress in Argentina by saying he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

He paid more than $70,000 in fines for ethics violations that included using public money for personal travel to Argentina.

He was subsequently divorced and is now engaged to the other woman, Maria Belen Chapur.

Sanford urged voters before Tuesday's election to trust him again. "One event does not define your life," Sanford told MSNBC. (Additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Paul Thomasch and Christopher Wilson)

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