GOP Trump Critic Loses Congressional Seat

FILE - In this Dec. 18, 2013, file photo, U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., discusses his first months back in Congress during an interview in Mount Pleasant, S.C. A spokesman for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said on Tuesday, July 12, 2016 that the agency is investigating after Sanford's niece's foot was apparently injured in an incident involving the congressman. An incident report said it happened on June 18, 2016 on a dock at the Sanford family farm near Beaufort, S.C. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith, File)

FILE – In this Dec. 18, 2013, file photo, U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., discusses his first months back in Congress during an interview in Mount Pleasant, S.C. A spokesman for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division said on Tuesday, July 12, 2016 that the agency is investigating after Sanford’s niece’s foot was apparently injured in an incident involving the congressman. An incident report said it happened on June 18, 2016 on a dock at the Sanford family farm near Beaufort, S.C. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith, File)

Rep. Mark Sanford, a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, lost his South Carolina congressional seat Tuesday hours after the president injected himself into the bitter Republican primary by stoking memories of the incumbent’s public extramarital affair seven years ago. In the most dramatic result in primaries across five states, Sanford was the second incumbent House Republican to lose a primary this year — the latest victim of intense divisions among the GOP in the Trump era.

Though he has a generally conservative voting record, his criticism of Trump as unworthy and culturally intolerant made him a target of the president’s most dedicated supporters, who often elevate loyalty over policy. Sanford was defeated by state Rep. Katie Arrington, who spent her campaign blasting Sanford as a “Never Trumper.” And hours before polls closed, Trump posted a startlingly personal attack on Twitter, calling Sanford “very unhelpful.”

 

“He’s MIA and nothing but trouble,” Trump continued. “He is better off in Argentina.”

The swipe was a reference to Sanford’s unexplained disappearance from the state in 2009, which he later said was part of an affair he was carrying on with a woman in Argentina.