Disgraced former governor Mark Sanford publicly debuts his mistress-turned-fiancée as he accepts GOP nomination for vacant South Carolina House seat
Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford publicly debuted the woman he sacrificed his political career for four years ago as he won the GOP nomination for a vacant U.S. House seat on Tuesday.
His fiancée Maria Belen Chapur stood by his side as he delivered his victory speech and thanked her for putting up with him throughout his race against former county council member Curtis Bostic.
He secured a 57-43 victory over Bostic in the GOP runoff for the first Congressional District, and Sanford will now face Elizabeth Colbert Busch in early May to regain his former seat.
It is the first time he has stepped out publicly with Chapur after he disappeared from South Carolina in 2009 and returned to confess to an extramarital affair with the Argentine woman.
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By his side: Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford thanks his fiance Maria Belen Chapur in Mount Pleasant on Tuesday after winning the GOP nomination for the U.S. House seat he once held
Celebration: Sanford leans in for a kiss with his fiancee following his win on Tuesday night
Mark Davenport, a reporter for South Carolina's WCSC channel, captured photographs of the couple as they celebrated the win with a kiss and shared the images on his Twitter page.
Following the affair, he separated with his wife and the mother of his four sons, Jenny, and is now engaged to Chapur, a divorced mother of two who worked at an Argentine news station.
The former three-term congressman and two-term governor saw his political career sidelined four years ago after the affair emerged.
Before leaving office as governor in 2011, he was censured by the Legislature over state travel expenses he used for the affair.
He was also ordered to pay more than $70,000 in ethics fines - the largest in state history - after Associated Press investigations suggested he had misused state aircraft, including to get a haircut.
Excitement: The couple, who first revealed their relationship in 2009, embrace at the event
All smiles: Chapur and Sanford pose together at the event which signals the start of his comeback career
Affair: Their relationship emerged after he left South Carolina to spend time with her for six days in 2009
Family: Sanford speaks to the crowd as he is supported by his family, including his sons and mother
Earlier Tuesday, Sanford said that results from the primary would give a good indication whether voters have moved past his personal indiscretions.
'I think tonight's verdict will say a lot as to where people are or are not on that,' Sanford said after voting. 'I suppose at some level, I will never completely move beyond that.'
The candidates were vying for the 1st Congressional District, which covers the south coast.
Sanford will now face Elizabeth Colbert Busch and Green Party candidate Eugene Platt in a May special election. She is the sister of political satirist Stephen Colbert.
Tuesday's win comes two weeks after Sanford led a 16-candidate field in a GOP primary for his old congressional seat. This is Sanford's first campaign since he revealed the affair.
Back on track? Sanford defeated a former county council member to win the GOP nomination on Tuesday
Ex-wife: Sanford is pictured with his wife Jenny at the White House in 2009, before his affair emerged
Bostic collected only about 13 per cent of the vote in the primary
voting two weeks ago, narrowly defeating state Sen. Larry Grooms for
Although Bostic had little time to overcome Sanford's high name recognition, Bostic said he liked his chances as he visited with voters in a suburban Charleston precinct before the polls closed.
'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.'
Bostic himself did not vote in the GOP runoff on Tuesday because he can't.
Sanford will face off against Elizabeth Colbert Busch, whose brother is comedian Stephen Colbert
Sanford will also have to overcome Green Party candidate Eugene Platt, pictured left
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 U.S. House, one 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.
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