WASHINGTON — Former Gov. Mark Sanford received support from roughly one-third of Republican voters in South Carolina's first congressional district on Tuesday — but he still faces a battle during the next two weeks leading up to a runoff.
His opponent will likely be Curtis Bostic, whose campaign in the 16-person Republican field was marked by a well-executed operation on the ground and by effective outreach to churches, South Carolina Republican sources said.
State Sen. Larry Grooms, who touted endorsements from Reps. Jeff Duncan and Mick Mulvaney, trailed Bostic by less than one percent with all precincts reporting, which by law means the votes will be counted again. But an aide to Grooms said Tuesday that they do not have the votes to top Bostic, and Grooms plans to step back from the race without issuing an outright concession.
Hogan Gidley, a spokesperson for Grooms, confirmed that the campaign does not "know of any reports of irregularities in voting" that would possibly yield a different result after a recount.
"(Grooms) is not going to stand in the way of the person who has the most votes if by the time the votes are all counted it's not him," Gidley added.
Should Bostic indeed advance to the runoff with Sanford, he will have a powerful ally in Republican Sen. Tim Scott, whose recent appointment to the Senate opened up the seat in South Carolina's first congressional district. Scott has not yet endorsed a candidate — but, like Scott, Bostic has served on the Charleston County Council.
Second place in the first round is also considered a position of power moving into the two-person runoff; indeed, a number of recent South Carolina Republican candidates have ultimately won from such a position.
Update: Grooms officially conceded in a Facebook post early Wednesday morning.