Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford scored a remarkable comeback from an adultery scandal Tuesday, winning back his former House seat, the Associated Press reported.
With 290 out of 317 precincts in the 1st Congressional District reporting, Sanford, a Republican, had 71,419 votes, or 55 percent, to Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch’s 58,971, or 45 percent.
Colbert Busch’s brother is television political satirist Stephen Colbert.
Sanford, 52, regained the seat he held from 1995 to 2001, after finishing his second term as governor in disgrace in 2011 over his attempts to hide an extramarital affair.
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Colbert Busch, 58, would have been the first Democrat to represent the district since 1980 and only the second woman to be elected to Congress from South Carolina.
The special election was held to fill the seat vacated by GOP Rep. Tim Scott when he was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Gov. Nikki Haley in December to replace Sen. Jim DeMint, who resigned.
Sanford had 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.
"Two weeks ago, a lot of Republicans were really unhappy with Sanford," Kendra Stewart, a political scientist at the College of Charleston, told Reuters. "But now I see them holding their nose on Tuesday and going to the ballot box and voting for someone they would rather not vote for. It's going to be close."
Sanford was the subject of attack ads that accuse 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.
Sanford paid more than $70,000 in fines for ethics violations that included using public money for personal travel to Argentina.
He subsequently divorced and is now engaged to the other woman, Maria Belen Chapur.