Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford finished first Tuesday in the GOP primary for South Carolina's 1st District, but his political comeback isn't complete just yet. In the special election to replace Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., Sanford will face the second-place finisher in an April 2 runoff for the GOP nomination.
It will still be a few days, however, before Sanford knows who his opponent is. Former Charleston County Councilor Curtis Bostic is just slightly ahead of state Sen. Larry Grooms, 13 percent to 12 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting, according to the Associated Press.
Should those numbers hold up, and Bostic and Grooms remain within a single percentage point of one another, there will be an automatic recount, State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire told Hotline On Call earlier this week. Whitemire added, in a brief phone interview this evening, that the commission's own results showed that a recount was likely, but that some precincts had yet to report.
The recount won't be ordered until at least Friday morning, when the Commission is next scheduled to meet, but could begin as soon as that afternoon, Whitmire said. There is no deadline by which a recount must begin, but he said that speed would be a priority and that a recount would likely take just one day.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Sanford leads the field with 37 percent of the vote, according to the AP. Sanford was expected to pull in about a third of the vote. A recount would give Sanford time to improve on those numbers, as Grooms and Bostic wait to see who finishes in second place.
Teddy Turner, son of media mogul Ted Turner, came in behind Grooms and Bostic with 8 percent of the vote, followed by state Rep. Andy Patrick, with 7 percent, former state Sen. John Kuhn, with 6 percent, and state Rep. Chip Limehouse, with 6 percent.
Grooms and Bostic were both considered frontrunners for the second place spot, though they rely on similar voting groups. Bostic is well-known in the evangelical and home school communities and worked hard to turn out those voters, while Grooms, who has served in the state Senate for 16 years, and sold himself as a conservative with Christian values, touting his support of traditional marriage.
Meanwhile, comedian Stephen Colbert's sister, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, easily won the Democratic nomination, defeating 2010 nominee Ben Frasier. The AP called the race with Colbert Busch leading Frasier 95 percent to 5 percent, with 60 percent of precincts reporting. Colbert Busch's victory was widely expected. Frasier has run for Congress numerous times and didn't mount much of a campaign.
Colbert Busch will proceed to the May 7 general election, where she will likely face a tough race against whichever Republican wins the April 2 runoff. Pres. Obama lost the district by 18 points last year.