Hours after President Donald Trump tweeted his opposition to Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), voters in his Charleston-based district tossed the former South Carolina Governor out of his seat in the U.S. House, making him the second incumbent to lose a primary in the 2018 mid-term campaign, as supporters of the President flexed their muscles in a series of races on Tuesday.
“Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA,” the President wrote on Twitter, with less than three hours until the polls closed in the Palmetto State, as GOP candidate Katie Arrington had highlighted the times that Sanford had split with the President, or criticized Mr. Trump.
“We’ve all see Mark on TV attacking our President,” Arrington said in a recent television ad, as she reminded voters repeatedly that Sanford had differed with Mr. Trump on funding for a border wall and more.
Before all the votes were in, Sanford was conceding defeat, telling supporters, “I’m going to lose this race.”
With almost all precincts reporting, Arrington led Sanford by nearly 2,600 votes, about 400 more than needed to avoid a runoff.
Sanford, who at times had been critical of policy decisions and actions of the President, became the second GOP lawmaker to lose a bid for re-election in the Congress in 2018, joining Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC), who lost his primary in May.
As of now, 56 sitting members of the House will not be back for the next session of Congress that begins in January of 2019 – two have been defeated, 32 decided not to run again, and 22 others are seeking a different elected office.
Of those 56 departures, 39 are Republicans, and 17 are Democrats.
Sanford’s defeat came a week after Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) was forced into a runoff, with voters in the Yellowhammer State still unhappy over her criticism of Mr. Trump – from before the 2016 election, when she questioned his fitness for office after the release of a Hollywood Access videotape that featured vulgar remarks by the President when talking about women.
While Mr. Trump’s candidate won by defeating Sanford, not everything the President touched in South Carolina worked, as his endorsement of Gov. Henry McMaster (R) could not prevent McMaster from being forced into a runoff in the GOP primary. That next vote will be on June 26.
Meanwhile in Virginia, Republicans selected pro-Trump supporter Corey Stewart to run against Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) in November.
At Stewart’s victory celebration, a chant of “Lock her up!” came from the crowd at one point, a reminder of more conservative direction that the GOP has taken in recent years in Virginia.
Kaine is seen as the strong favorite over Stewart in November.