Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford is facing a runoff against Curtis Bostic for the GOP nomination for the state’s 1st Congressional District seat, which was vacated when Tim Scott was appointed to the Senate. One would think that Sanford’s infamous abandonment of his post to indulge in a fling with his Argentinian mistress would disqualify him from serious consideration by those who treasure “family values” or who think using public money for a dalliance isn’t the sign of a true fiscal conservative.

Rick Santorum
Rick Santorum (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

Penny Nance of Concerned Women for America, not one to drop her principles, blasted Sanford’s run. Now, Rick Santorum, another prominent social conservative, has come out to back Bostic. The Post reports:

“I’m pleased to announce our endorsement of Curtis Bostic in South Carolina’s first congressional district,” Santorum said in a statement distributed by the Bostic campaign. “Curtis’ groundswell finish to a runoff spot signals a win for the strength of his grassroots supporters and his robust conservative values.”

Conservative blogger Robert Stacy McCain also points to Sanford’s problems with voters:

 The former Pennsylvania senator’s endorsement comes with just a week remaining until the April 2 runoff that will pit Bostic, a former Charleston County council member, against Sanford, who got 37 percent of the vote in a 16-candidate field in the March 19 Republican primary.  . . . A newly released Public Policy Polling survey shows the SC-1 race surprisingly close, in part because voters “continue to strongly dislike Sanford,” who was censured by the legislature for ethics violations related to the former governor’s affair with an Argentine woman.

Santorum will be campaigning with Bostic in advance of the runoff vote.

This is not merely a test of South Carolinian conservatives’ determination to avoid the opprobrium of fellow conservatives and the tag “world-class hypocrites.” It also is a test of of Santorum’s sway with the GOP’s social conservative wing. If he wants to remain viable for 2016 (or outside of presidential politics), there could be no bigger boost than helping to bring down a character like Sanford.

Santorum’s effort to rescue Bostic also suggests that the stakes are high for Republicans: A fumble in what has been considered a safe seat would send shock waves through the state party and feed the mainstream media story line that Republicans are their own worst enemy. A lot of Republicans outside of South Carolina, regardless of how they feel about Santorum, will be rooting for him to drag Bostic across the finish line.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.