Following revelations that his ex-wife accused him of trespassing on her property earlier this year, former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford (R) has lost the support of his national party.
The news comes as controversy continues to swirl around Sanford and his personal life -- a process that began with his well-publicized 2009 affair but was inflamed, the Washington Post has learned, when one of the Sanfords' sons met Mark Sanford's former mistress for the first time the night he won the GOP nomination.
The National Republican Congressional Committee on Wednesday took the unusual step of telegraphing that it will not spend money on his special election campaign.
“Mark Sanford has proven he knows what it takes to win elections. At this time, the NRCC will not be engaged in this special election," the NRCC said in a statement, which was first reported by Politico.
The committee has spent very little on the race so far, but Sanford's problems have put a conservative district in jeopardy for the Republicans. And the report Tuesday of the trespassing complaint seems to assure that he wouldn't sail to victory.
A Republican familiar with the NRCC’s decision criticized Sanford's lackluster response to the report about his ex-wife's trespassing complaint and said it would be “foolish” for anybody to spend money on him.
“It’s not out of the realm of possibility for him to win – stranger things have happened in special elections,” the Republican said. “But the fact that he wasted precious time and money rehabilitating his image only to squander that makes it very foolish for outside groups to commit resources.”
Mark Sanford acknowledged in a statement Wednesday that he visited his wife's beach house without her permission to watch the Super Bowl with their son. But Jenny Sanford, in her complaint, said it was part of a "pattern of entering" her home.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post has learned that tensions within the family flared up as recently as April 2, at the celebration of Sanford's runoff election victory when the former governor thrust two of his sons on-stage with the Argentine woman who was at the center of the spectacular sex scandal that broke up his marriage.
For Sanford's teenage son Bolton, that very public moment marked the first time he had ever been in the presence of Maria Belen Chapur.
Sanford's former wife Jenny confirmed in a text message: "That was indeed Bolton's first intro and both boys were quite upset and visibly so."
Their son's discomfort is evident in photos of the event.
Sanford faces Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch on May 7. A Democratic super PAC on Wednesday launched a significant ad buy against him.
Colbert Busch's strategists say their internal polling suggests that her best shot at beating Sanford in this heavily Republican district is by winning over independent and Republican women voters.