Sanford also overcame a cash disadvantage and a wave of outside Democratic spending. Colbert Busch outraised Sanford $1.18 million to $787,000 as of their latest disclosures, released April 17. Outside groups spent more than $1.1 million in the district, almost all of it attacking Sanford; the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and House Majority PAC, a Democratic super PAC focusing on House races, spent nearly $1 million to attack the former governor.
Those groups bashed Sanford on South Carolina airwaves. One ad from House Majority PAC featured a woman accusing Sanford of abandoning his family and the state.
Accusing his opponent of being beholden to the national party, Sanford made House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi a major theme in his campaign. At a public event, he staged a faux "debate" against a life-sized cardboard image of Pelosi.
Had he lost tonight, it likely would have been the end of Sanford's political career: He has said that if he lost, he would not seek public office again.
But Sanford appears to be back for good. His Republican district voted solidly for Mitt Romney in 2012, and having won over the district's voters for a second time in his career, the seat is red enough -- and Sanford is conservative enough -- that he's poised to hold it without a significant challenge from either the left or right.