CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford lost the Republican nomination for his congressional seat to an opponent who attacked his criticism of President Donald Trump.
Voters on Tuesday decided state Rep. Katie Arrington would be the Republican candidate in the coastal 1st District.
Sanford told his supporters shortly before 11 p.m. he was likely to lose his bid for re-election Tuesday night.
"We will see what the final numbers foretell, but I've always been a realist, and at this point, based on the numbers I see, I think that I'll end up losing this election," Sanford said.
The race had not yet been called for his opponent, Katie Arrington, but results that had come in by the time he stepped up to the microphone showed her at 51 percent of the vote, enough to win the GOP primary for the seat.
Arrington spent her campaign calling Sanford a "Never Trumper." And hours before polls closed, Trump posted on Twitter supporting her.
Sanford is a former governor who has never lost an election in eight races in South Carolina, even after he admitted to an affair with a woman in Argentina.
In defense of his stance on Trump, Sanford has said he criticizes anyone regardless of party if they deserve it.
In a tweet posted at 4:12 p.m., less than three hours before polls closed, the president described Sanford as "very unhelpful" in Trump's campaign to "Make America Great Again."
"He is MIA and nothing but trouble," Trump tweeted, adding, "He is better off in Argentina."
Both Trump's tweet and one of Arrington's ads referred to Sanford's 2009 affair where he flew to Argentina to see his lover while his staff unknowingly told reporters he was hiking on the Appalachian trail.
"I am grateful for the President's support," Arrington said. "I look forward to working together with him to drain the swamp and continue making America great again."
The district includes portions of Beaufort, Colleton, Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester Counties and the election marks Sanford's first contest with President Donald Trump in office.
He tweeted again Wednesday mornings, saying that his political representatives thought Sanford would 'easily win'.
Arrington represents district 94 in the South Carolina state house and lives in Summerville. She has served in the Statehouse since 2016.