"By a voting margin of less than 1 [percentage point], my plans to represent South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District have ended," Grooms said in a statement. "To the possibility of a recount, as I understand it, the state Election Commission will begin an automatic recount as outlined by state law — and I will be the 'official' third place finisher in the race. I wish Gov. Mark Sanford and Curtis Bostic all the best. Like all the candidates and office holders across America, they too will constantly be in my prayers."

Grooms had refused to concede the night of the election because he'd finished within 1 percentage point of Bostic, close enough to trigger an automatic recount. That likely cost Bostic precious time as he tried to gear up against the much better-known and better-funded Sanford, who finished with 37 percent of the vote in the first round to Bostic's 13 percent.

Sanford is viewed as the heavy favorite heading into the second round of voting. The winner will face businesswoman Elizabeth Colbert Busch (D), the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert.