Sanford loses key endorsements in SC

Two conservative lawmakers have endorsed South Carolina state Sen. Larry Grooms (R) over former Gov. Mark Sanford for an open House seat.

Reps. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) and Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) both endorsed Grooms to succeed Sen. Tim Scott (R), who left the House with his appointment to the upper chamber. 

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The endorsements are a blow to Sanford, who hopes to return to the House and revive a once promising political career. Sanford completed his second term as governor but left office in disgrace after an extramarital affair led to his resignation as chairman of the Republican Governors Association and his divorce. 

"Conservatives like Jeff and I need Larry to stand with us on the most important issues facing our country today," Mulvaney said in a statement released by Grooms's campaign. "When it comes to reducing taxes, cutting wasteful Washington spending and protecting our liberties, I believe Larry Grooms is the right man for the job. Larry has been in the trenches, and he has proven his conservative credentials in the state senate. We want Larry on our team."

While neither Mulvaney nor Duncan referenced Sanford by name, Duncan pointedly referenced Grooms's faith in his statement, which could be a jab at Sanford's past marital infidelities. Both congressmen are Tea Party favorites elected in the 2010 wave election.

"While there are several good candidates in the 1st Congressional race, Larry Grooms has the record, values, and conviction best suited to represent the Lowcountry in Congress," Duncan said in a statement released by Grooms's campaign. "I've known Larry for years and worked with him in Columbia at the Statehouse. Together, we fought for conservative reforms, and I know Larry both as a man of faith and as a conservative leader."

Mulvaney's endorsement is less than shocking. When the field first began to take shape in early January he told The Hill that he was concerned Sanford's past indiscretions would overshadow his conservative voting record and turn coverage of the delegation into a "circus." 

He also heaped praise on Grooms, saying local Tea Party activists had told him Grooms would get their support and predicting that if Grooms made the primary runoff against Sanford he could beat him.

Grooms is one of a number of Republicans vying to make the GOP primary runoff against Sanford. While he's not as well-funded as some of his rivals, he has represented much of the district and is well-known locally. The primary will be on March 19, with a runoff on April 2.

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