Former Gov. Mark Sanford said Tuesday that results from a South Carolina congressional primary runoff will give a good indication whether voters have moved past the personal indiscretions that derailed his political career several years ago.
"I think tonight's verdict will say a lot as to where people are or are not on that," Sanford said after voting in his downtown Charleston precinct. "I suppose at some level, I will never completely move beyond that."
The former three-term congressman and two-term governor saw his political career sidelined four years ago when he disappeared from the state only to return and confess to an extramarital affair with a woman to whom he is now engaged.
Sanford, who collected about 37 percent of the vote two weeks ago in the 16-way GOP primary for his old congressional seat, faced Curtis Bostic, a former Charleston County councilman, in the GOP runoff on Tuesday. It's Sanford's first campaign since he revealed the affair.
Bostic collected only about 13 percent of the vote in the primary voting, narrowly defeating state Sen. Larry Grooms for second place. He said he liked his chances as he visited with voters in a suburban Charleston precinct.
"People dismiss us," the attorney and retired Marine said. "But we believe strongly the best way to win elections is through relationships and we have worked really hard to do that."
He said despite Sanford's larger plurality last month and the former governor's far deeper campaign war chest, it was possible to defeat Sanford.
"That's not to say we're not the underdog and it's not going to be a struggle," Bostic said. "Anyone who comes into a race as Gov. Sanford did with 100-percent name recognition and someone who is on CNN and MSNBC, they are going to have the advantage in fundraising and lots of things. I'll take my advantage: my volunteer base."
The runoff winner faces Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, and Green Party candidate Eugene Platt next month.
Bostic himself did not vote in the GOP runoff on Tuesday because he can't.
His residence near Ravenel, S.C., is in the 6th Congressional District, represented by U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, about 1,500 yards from the 1st District line. Bostic's law office, other property, church and children's schools are in the district. Under federal law, to run for the House, you only need to be a resident of the state in which the district is located, not the district itself.
Sanford said he would be out campaigning and meeting voters until the polls closed, despite his apparent lead after the primary voting.
"There's no such thing as 'well ahead' in the world of politics," he said.