Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul plans to endorse Republican nominee Mark Sanford ahead of a special election to fill the first district House seat in South Carolina, Yahoo News has confirmed.
Paul's decision to endorse Sanford comes after national Republicans all but abandoned the former South Carolina governor after his ex-wife accused him of trespassing on her property following a nasty divorce. The National Republican Congressional Committee, an official party group tasked with electing Republicans to the House, announced earlier this month it would stop devoting new resources to Sanford's campaign.
Sanford and Democrat Elizabeth Colbert-Busch will face of in a special election scheduled for Tuesday, May 7.
According to a source close to the Sanford campaign, Paul will make the endorsement sometime this week. The news was first reported by Peter Hamby of CNN.
Paul, the son of former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and a respected figure among libertarian and tea party activists, has signaled he is considering a bid for the 2016 GOP nomination. By endorsing Sanford, who remains popular among many conservatives in South Carolina, Paul is demonstrating his independence from the national party and ingratiating himself among grass-roots activists in a key primary state.
Paul is planning a trip to South Carolina this summer. South Carolina holds the first presidential primary in the South and is traditionally viewed as a bellwether for how a candidate will fare in the region.