Well, you can’t say former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford is trying to hide the woman with whom he had an affair and for whom he abandoned his office for several days and ultimately his wife and children. At his party celebrating his decisive primary win over Curtis Bostic, none other than his Argentinian fianceé, Maria Belen, strode in and planted a smooch on the once-disgraced governor’s lips. Take that, values voters!
South Carolina Republicans, you will recall, voted for Newt Gingrich in the 2012 presidential primary and now have chosen Sanford to go up against Elizabeth Colbert Busch for the 1st Congressional District seat to replace Tim Scott, who was selected to replace Jim DeMint. I suppose the rock-ribbed conservatives of South Carolina don’t think much of the institution of marriage, except when it comes to excluding gays.
The conclusion the average American will draw from this primary may be that Republicans are a forgiving lot or that they think marital affairs, so to speak, are none of their business (except when it comes to gays and lesbians) or that the collapse of heterosexual marriage in this country has more to do with those who instruct their fellow citizens to do as they say, not as they do, than it does with gays wanting to settle down.
In the short run, the GOP is in danger of losing the seat. Busch, unlike her comedian brother, is a serious and respected person in business circles. She will have no problems raising a ton of cash and widening the gender gap. Some disgusted Republicans may stay home, but Democrats should be energized to win back a seat and embarrass the GOP (well, I guess Republicans already did that).
I can’t wait to hear Sanford explain his position on same-sex marriage and hear his definition of the institution (one man and one woman, a hike, and another woman ?) . Maybe he will discover that marriage is about finding your “soul mate,” and no government or social convention should prevent you from cementing your bonds with that person. Will Republicans now kiss and make up (so to speak) with the candidate who symbolizes contempt for family values?
The race will continue to draw national media attention. Republicans may well be in for a drubbing however the race turns out. If Sanford loses, the press will declare that the GOP suicidal tendency is only getting worse; if he wins, the media will rightly declare the “traditional values” crowd to be world-class hypocrites. Either way, the Democratic Party should be sending bouquets to those GOP primary voters.