WASHINGTON — President Trump threw his support behind the primary opponent of a sitting Republican House member Tuesday afternoon, with just hours to go before the polls closed in South Carolina.
“Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA. He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is better off in Argentina. I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in SC, a state I love. She is tough on crime and will continue our fight to lower taxes. VOTE Katie!” Trump tweeted. The president has been endorsing sitting lawmakers he has a good relationship with, but so far, has not endorsed a primary opponent of someone in his own party.
The race between Sanford — the former governor of South Carolina who resigned in 2009 over an extramarital affair with an Argentinian woman — and Arrington, who is a state lawmaker, has gotten competitive in recent days.
Sanford, a conservative Republican who is aligned with the party’s hardline faction, is one of the few GOP members who is critical of the president. For a primary voter, anti-Trump rhetoric is often poisonous. Arrington has campaigned on Sanford being disloyal to Trump. It is not clear if Trump’s last minute effort will be enough to dissuade voters. The polls close at 7 p.m.
Despite, having to resign in 2009 Sanford won a special election in 2013 for his old congressional seat and has held it ever since. South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District has been solidly red, however, Democrats believe in a wave election year they could have a chance in November in this wealthy, highly educated district that spans part of Charleston and Hilton Head Island, particularly if the candidate is Arrington.