In a stunning upset, state Representative Katie Arrington defeated incumbent Congressman Mark Sanford, R-S.C., in the Republican primary in South Carolina’s 1st congressional district on Tuesday.
Preliminary results show Arrington received 50.5 percent of the vote in the GOP primary compared to 46.6 percent for Sanford, a frequent critic of President Donald Trump.
Trump weighed in on the race hours before the polls closed, referencing a 2009 scandal in which then-Governor Sanford was revealed to be engaged in an extramarital affair in Argentina.
“Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA. He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is better off in Argentina,” Trump said in a post on Twitter.
He added, “I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in SC, a state I love. She is tough on crime and will continue our fight to lower taxes. VOTE Katie!”
Trump again referenced the race after Arrington was declared the winner, indicating that his political representatives did not want him to get involved in the Republican primary.
“My political representatives didn’t want me to get involved in the Mark Sanford primary thinking that Sanford would easily win – but with a few hours left I felt that Katie was such a good candidate, and Sanford was so bad, I had to give it a shot. Congrats to Katie Arrington!” Trump tweeted.
Political observers have suggested the outcome of the race could be a warning sign to other Republican lawmakers willing to criticize the president.
Sanford acknowledged disagreeing with Trump may have cost him the election but said he stands by every one of his decisions.
With his defeat, Sanford becomes just the second incumbent House member to lose a primary this election cycle after Congressman Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., lost in North Carolina last month
Arrington will face off against Democratic attorney Joe Cunningham in the general election, although the district has not elected a Democrat since 1978.