Two South Carolina Republican Congressmen Explain Why They Endorsed The Candidate Who Isn't Mark Sanford

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 22 2013 12:22 PM

Two South Carolina Republican Congressmen Explain Why They Endorsed The Candidate Who Isn't Mark Sanford

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Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford attends ceremonies rolling out the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on April 27, 2012 at Boeing's new production facility in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Photo by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GettyImages

The Beltway media—and, to be fair, everybody else—looks at the special election in South Carolina's 1st district as a freak show. Gov. Mark Sanford, who served out his term despite a sex scandal that involved misuse of government funds (you remember all this), jumped into the primary and began his own "apology tour." His entry into the race came after his wife hinted at, then passed on, her own run. Republicans who'd gotten past the guy now have to weigh in on his new career.

They're gently telling him to pack it in. Today, Rep. Mick Mulvaney and Rep. Jeff Duncan talked to reporters to explain why they got behind a state senator with roughly 0.008% of Sanford's name ID, Larry Grooms.*

"We worked very well with Mark Sanford," said Duncan. "We stood shoulder to shoulder fighting for the principles that we believe in. But another person that stood there as well was a legislator, State Senator Larry Grooms." Yes, Sanford was a star, but anyone can be a star. "It was easy for Sanford to have a bully pulpit as governor. It's another thing to be in the trenches, having to face leadership, and say no, that's not a conservative position, that's not what we're doing."

Mulvaney couched his explanation by describing a conversation he'd had with "a random Tea Party person."

"He said, if Mark Sanford gets in against a more moderate Republican, then he would support Sanford," said Mulvaney. "If Sanford got into a runoff against a good conservative, essentially a conservative without that baggage, that person would vote the other person. I thought that was a good analysis. I essentially agree with it." That "baggage" was the only thing that gave Democrats a shot at the seat. "Everybody knows what Mark did. It's not like something you have to educate people about."

*For a long while, this misstated the senator's name as "Brooms." It happens.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.