Following election-day rebuke from Trump, Sanford falls in GOP primary

Following election-day rebuke from Trump, Sanford falls in GOP primary
South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford (R) lost the Republican primary campaign on Tuesday, after President Donald Trump made an election-day social media move to endorse challenger Katie Arrington in the race. (William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

Incumbent Republican Rep. Mark Sanford lost in the South Carolina primary race to challenger Katie Arrington on Tuesday, after President Donald Trump made an election-day social media move to hit out at Sanford and endorse Arrington in the race.

What did Trump say?

Less than three hours before the polls closed, President Trump took to Twitter with the message: “Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA. He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is better of in Argentina. I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in SC, a state I love. She is tough on crime and will continue our fight to lower taxes. VOTE Katie!”

Trump’s reference to Argentina was a dig at Sanford’s 2009 affair scandal during the time he was governor of South Carolina, when he disappeared for several days on a secret trip to Buenos Aires to visit his mistress. Sanford eventually confessed to the relationship amid suspicions, after his staffers told anyone who asked of his whereabouts during his absence that Sanford was “hiking the Appalachian Trail.”

For her part, Arrington put out a campaign ad against Sanford that said, “it’s time for Mark Sanford to take a hike — for real this time.” Arrington has repeatedly called Sanford a “Never Trumper,” due to the incumbent’s criticisms of the president.

In the past, Sanford said the president should “just shut up” and “quit responding” to critics and focus on the issues at hand. Sanford endorsed Ted Cruz (R-Texas) during the 2016 presidential primary.

How were the president’s comments received?

In response to the president’s tweet, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash came to his colleague’s defense, hitting back at Trump’s remarks by replying, “@MarkSanford’s job is to support and defend the Constitution. He’s one of the most principled, consistent, and conservative members of Congress I’ve ever known. And unlike you, Mark has shown humility in his role and a desire to be a better man than he was the day before.”

Then what?

Before the final results were even tallied, Sanford told supporters, “I’ve always been a realist and at this point, based on the numbers I see, I think that I will end up losing this election.”

The congressman’s prediction came true, with him conceding to Arrington.

With nearly 94 percent of precincts reporting, Arrington’s vote count was at 50.7 percent, to Sanford’s 46.4 percent. It is the first race Sanford has lost over his 25 years in politics.

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