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Mark Sanford comeback: four reasons for his improbable win (+video)

Mark Sanford credits his unlikely victory to being 'an imperfect man saved by God's grace,' but he was also a skilled campaigner, in a deep red district, who made the race about Nancy Pelosi.

By Husna HaqCorrespondent / May 8, 2013

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (l.) gives his victory speech after winning back his old congressional seat in the state's First District on Tuesday in Mt. Pleasant, S.C.

Rainier Ehrhardt/AP


Talk about a comeback.

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Former Gov. Mark Sanford speaks to the "CBS This Morning" co-hosts about winning South Carolina's Congressional election against Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch.

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) “left office as one of the nation’s top political pariahs,” with a “political career left for dead,” only to “return from the political graveyard” in a race that epitomized political redemption.

And the race wasn’t even close, as polls had predicted: Sanford crushed opponent Elizabeth Colbert Busch, 54 to 45 percent, winning all five counties in South Carolina's First Congressional District.

This, for a guy who wove himself into such a tangled web, his own party abandoned him – and political opponents had nothing to do but sit back and watch.

In case you’ve forgotten, then-Governor Sanford disappeared from office for six days in June 2009, and his office issued a vague story about him hiking the Appalachian Trail before it was revealed that he was actually having an affair with a paramour in Argentinaon the state’s “time and dime." For this, he was slapped with 37 ethics charges and had to pay $70,000 in ethics fines, the largest amount in state history. Then, there was the messy divorce from his popular wife and the recent charge brought by his ex-wife that he had trespassed on her property.

Even Sanford appears to acknowledge the political miracle behind his congressional victory.

“I want to acknowledge a God not just of second chances but third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth chances, because that is the reality of our shared humanity," Sanford said at his victory celebration. “I am one imperfect man saved by God's grace.”

Here are four factors behind Sanford’s improbable comeback.

Red state, red district

 Let’s not forget the obvious. South Carolina’s First Congressional District is a deep red district in a deep red state – a fact that provided the Republican candidate, no matter who, a huge leg up. Consider this: GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney won the state by almost 20 percentage points last November. And Rep. Tim Scott (R) was reelected by 27 points before he was picked by Gov. Nikki Haley (R) to fill the Senate seat vacated by Sen. Jim DeMint (R). In fact, no Democrat has held the district’s congressional seat in more than 30 years.


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