Sen: Following election-day rebuke from Trump, Sanford falls in GOP primary

That's the lesson being learned by Republicans after Trump critic and GOP Rep. Mark Sanford lost his primary election in SC hours after the president tweeted that he was "very unhelpful".

But that changed Tuesday afternoon when the president, flying from Singapore to Guam on Air Force One for a refueling stop, tweeted Sanford had been "very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA", adding: "He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is MIA and nothing but trouble", Trump wrote in a tweet Tuesday afternoon, less than three hours before polls closed in SC.

Sanford made enemies as governor in 2009, when he disappeared to Argentina during an extramarital affair.

Still, another Trump supporter who had the president's endorsement, incumbent South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, was forced into a runoff with John Warren, the founder and chief executive officer of Lima One Capital, a mortgage finance company, in a five-way Republican primary.

Sanford is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which has also squared off with President Trump. Trump, who came out in support of Sanford's opponent Katie Arrington hours before the polls closed, took credit for the results Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a candidate for governor who had done her best to imitate President Donald Trump ultimately rubbed voters the wrong way, while a once-popular Richland solicitor fell victim to a swarm of allegations about sexual harassment allegations and improper spending.

Sanford, a member of the hard right House Freedom Caucus, has always been one of the few congressional Republicans willing to openly break with Trump. Local, state and national Democrats have called on him to drop out of the race in the deep-red district and say they won't support him if he wins. But as Sanford spoke, the race was still too close to call.

Another Republican who was also critical of Trump, Alabama GOP Rep. Martha Roby, is also at risk of losing re-election.


This all comes as Never Trump establishment Republicans like Sens. Her unexpected victory now makes Arrington the poster child for the pro-Trump wing of the Republican Party's 2018 takeover. "He is better off in Argentina", Trump tweeted.

Second, many faithful Republicans running in competitive seats in either purple and blue states will get wiped out if they cling to Trump and defend his policies - including an unpopular tax plan, cruel immigration policies, etc.

Shortly after the president's Tuesday tweet, senior conservative GOP members rallied around Sanford.

In the past, Sanford said the president should "just shut up" and "quit responding" to critics and focus on the issues at hand. And in a Republican primary, that was a recipe for exile and a warning to others.

Cramer is in his third term representing North Dakota's at-large congressional district, giving him strong name recognition and a track record of being elected to statewide office. Earlier this year at the party convention, journalist Leslie Cockburn won the nomination in Virginia's 5th Congressional District.

Republican Senator Bob Corker, who declined to run for re-election in conservative Tennessee after tangling with Trump, said on Wednesday the party was now in "a odd place", and not a good one. Also, why did it take so long for Trump to get into the game?

Democrats notched another win in state legislative special elections on Tuesday, the party's 43rd red-to-blue flip since President Donald Trump stepped into the White House a year ago.

The general election is set for November 6.


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