CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Mark Sanford says not endorsing Katie Arrington for the First Congressional District race had nothing to do with her loss Tuesday night to Democrat Joe Cunningham.
Arrington gave her concession speech on Wednesday morning during which she called out Sanford, who opted not to endorse either candidate in the race.
“We lost because Mark Sanford could not understand this was about the conservative movement and not him,” she said. “Mark Sanford, to all of your donors, I asked of them this morning to request their donation back if they are truly conservatives to your wonderful chest that you’ve kept so proud and for so long.”
“I think there’s a bit of hyperbole that would suggest that somehow I drove what happened in the election, given the fact that major Republicans like Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham did endorse,” Sanford said Wednesday afternoon in Beaufort County.
Sanford added that he has also not historically endorsed candidates, and that endorsements are “overstated.”
“I respect the fact that it’s a normal enough, very human reaction to blame someone else or something else for something that doesn’t go right in our lives. I get that,” Sanford said regarding Arrington’s statements towards him.
He said he doesn’t believe that his inaction to endorse led to Arrington’s loss.
“I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say, ‘Oh but this one guy didn’t [endorse].’ As if I held the lynchpin to what happened in the First District,” Sanford said. “I believe elections ought to be about a direct conversation and a direct relationship between the voter and the candidate, and as much as possible everybody else ought to stay out of the equation."
Arrington defeated Sanford in the Republican primary and is a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump who came to South Carolina to support her during her campaign.
Sanford blamed his defeat on Trump, saying support for the president is becoming a litmus test in GOP primaries, according to the Associated Press.