CHARLESTON, S.C. —
On Tuesday, he thanked his oldest son and his fiancee, Maria Belen Chapur, who stood near him after flying from Argentina. The woman he has called his "soul mate" left immediately after his victory speech.
Sanford's 1st District, slightly reconfigured from the one he held for three terms in the 1990s, is strongly Republican and Mitt Romney took it by 18 points in last year's presidential race. Green Party candidate Eugene Platt also ran.
Three weeks before the special election, news surfaced that Sanford's ex-wife had filed a court complaint alleging he was in her house without permission in violation of their divorce decree, leading the National Republican Congressional Committee to pull its support from the campaign. Sanford must appear in court Thursday on the complaint.
Sanford said he tried to get in touch with his ex-wife and was in the house so his youngest son would not have to watch the Super Bowl alone.
The seat became vacant when U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint resigned from his Senate seat late last year. Governor Nikki Haley then appointed the sitting congressman, Tim Scott, to fill DeMint's seat.
"We put up a heck of a fight, didn't we?" Colbert Busch told a crowd of supporters at a hotel in Charleston, across the Cooper River from where Sanford met his supporters. "The people have spoken, and I respect their decision."
Colbert Busch had said after she voted that she felt positive and encouraged. But in the end, Sanford took the race despite his tainted past being an issue for some voters.
Gabriel Guillard, 49, a massage therapist and teacher, said she liked Colbert Busch but would have voted for anyone but Sanford.
"I would do anything to make sure Mark Sanford doesn't get back in because of his past behavior," she said. "And I am so tired of South Carolina being a laughingstock. I'm so sick of it."