Political Animal


April 04, 2013 9:15 AM Other Woman Follies

By Ed Kilgore

A day after absorbing the basic news that Mark Sanford had won the Republican nomination for his old gig representing SC’s 1st District in Congress, the chattering classes shifted focus to the election night surprise that was a lot bigger than anything in the results: the counter-intuitive appearance of Sanford’s Argentinian fiancee, Maria Belen Chapur, at his victory celebration. You might have expected her either to show up in the district earlier or to stay out of sight until May 7’s special general election. So what’s up with that?

Sanford himself told as least one reporter that Chapur “surprised” him by showing up at the event. If so, it must have been an even bigger surprise to Sanford’s politically powerful ex-wife, Jenny, to turn on the tube and see The Other Woman next to her sons and her ex yukking it up on the revival of the political career she did so much to craft and finance.

Accident or not, some pundits and “experts” actually think this will be good for Sanford’s campaign, per this report from the Charleston Post & Courier’s Schuyler Kropf:

College of Charleston political scientist Kendra Stewart said Chapur’s sudden presence probably helped much more than it hurt.
“This would have been very risky at the beginning of the campaign, but he had a pretty solid win,” she said, “which sends a message that voters have moved on and gotten over the affair.”

That’s interesting. Voters will decide they have “moved on” because Sanford’s fiancee shows up after the runoff votes were already cast? And he’s saying it wasn’t even planned?

Additionally, Stewart said Chapur’s showing, coupled with the widespread media coverage of her face afterward, also helps him with female voters, a crucial demographic that Democratic opponent Elizabeth Colbert Busch hopes to claim in the May 7 election.
“It’s easy to hate the ‘other woman’ when you don’t see her or know anything about her,” Stewart said. “This gives a human face to the other woman. It will make it easier to identify with her and more difficult to judge her.”

Maybe so, again assuming Chapur’s appearance didn’t blow up some agreement with Jenny Sanford, who could probably win and almost certainly lose the general election for Mark with just a few public statements. If the nice little family picture on the tube was indeed spontaneous—or worse yet, a deliberate ploy to “turn the page” just a bit prematurely—you can bet Sanford was quickly on the phone with his ex-wife with a new round of begging.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on April 04, 2013 9:25 AM:

    SC Rube Voters POV:
    Sure, she was the HARLOT and JEZEBEL who broke-up Mark's marriage.

    But God and Jesus forgave Mark, like he told us, so we can forgive him - and her too.

    So, sure, she's a harlot and jezebel, but from now on, now that we've seen her, she'll be OUR harlot and jezebel too.

    Better'n some anti-family Liberal Democrat's wife, ANYDAY!!!

  • JR on April 04, 2013 9:28 AM:

    Should John Edwards try a comeback?

  • Lifelong Dem on April 04, 2013 9:33 AM:

    I'm amazed by the number of pundits telling me that Sanford's win is proof, PROOF I TELL YOU, that voters have moved beyond caring about sex scandals. To which I have said: Bullshit.

    When Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer, or, yes JR, John Edwards win elections, I'll believe that the voting public has moved on. Until then, I believe this is just another group of partisan Republicans letting a Republican politician get by with any sin as long as he's electable.

    David Vitter, Newt Gingrich, Henry Hyde, John Ensign, Mark Foley and on and on and on ....

  • Domage on April 04, 2013 9:38 AM:

    Yet one more instance proving that it's okay if you're a Republican (IOKIYAR).

    As, indeed, it is. Gingrich, Hyde, Vitter, Craig, Sanford--the list is endless of right-wing figures who have made their careers about family values while conducting extramarital affairs sometimes leading to the birth of children via their mistresses. But none of them pay any price--indeed, most find their careers enhanced.

    For the right, hypocrisy is a feature, not a bug.

  • c u n d gulag on April 04, 2013 9:41 AM:

    Silly JR!

    Edwards is a DEMOCRAT!
    Jesus only forgives Republicans.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on April 04, 2013 9:57 AM:

    “It’s easy to hate the ‘other woman’ when you don’t see her or know anything about her,” Stewart said. “This gives a human face to the other woman. It will make it easier to identify with her and more difficult to judge her.”

    Yeah. Sure. Alright, Gents. Next time your wife finds out about the hussy on the side, show your wife some of those pics your lovey-pooh has been sending you. Your wife will probably want to know who colors her hair. BFFs in the making!!!!

    The GOP elevates misunderstanding women to a high art form.

  • g on April 04, 2013 9:57 AM:

    Additionally, Stewart said Chapur’s showing, coupled with the widespread media coverage of her face afterward, also helps him with female voters

    Oh, yeah, there's nothing female voters love more than The Other Woman. Look at how popular Callista Gingrich is.

  • LaFollette Progressive on April 04, 2013 9:58 AM:

    Aside from the IOKIYAR angle, which is surely part of it, I do think the fact that Sanford is marrying the other woman does make the whole incident easier for people to get past.

    Falling out of love with one person and falling in love with another is an experience we can all sympathize with, to a certain extent. Unlike, say, banging $1000-per-hour call girls with your socks on.

    Okay, falling in love with another person while still married, and then making up a hilariously bogus cover story while abandoning your post as an elected official to fly to South America to shack up with your girlfriend... that's really not the sort of thing you'd expect South Carolinians to be cool with. But I don't think her presence at a campaign rally hurts, at this point. It humanizes her and puts the ridiculousness of the story in the background.

  • Jerry O'Brien on April 04, 2013 10:02 AM:

    You shouldn't call her his "fiancee". If "girlfriend" or "lover" seems awkward, too bad. The fact is that the relationship is awkward. "Fiancee" appeals to a traditional notion of propriety that obviously has not been adhered to by Sanford and Chapur. It's fine with me if they're happy with each other, but they don't get to claim the status that "fiancee" implies. Let them get through the ceremony before giving them any traditional legitimacy.

  • T2 on April 04, 2013 10:04 AM:

    Forget the woman, the guy LIED straight in the face of South Carolinians and got away with it. They are cool with their elected leaders lying to them. I say "hell yeah, let him represent you", enjoy the ride, you rubes.

  • jim filyaw on April 04, 2013 10:09 AM:

    five will get you ten that every baptist and fundy preacher in his district will anoint him as god's anointed. remember, iokiyar!

  • Cardinal Red on April 04, 2013 10:12 AM:

    Exactly, forget the other woman, this scumbag abandoned his post as Governor and lied about it and left his staff in the dark. Dereliction of duty plain and simple.

  • Kathryn on April 04, 2013 10:24 AM:

    I couldn't help but notice that one of his sons, relegated to the back row, looked none too comfortable when the beautiful fiancé was acknowledged. Time will tell how this flies with South Carolina women, Jenny Sanford is a very popular and sympathetic figure in the state. I have to say, most mothers would be less than happy to see their children in that position.

  • Peter C on April 04, 2013 10:30 AM:

    Perhaps the issue does not hurt Sanford with Republicans because Republican women always vote the way their husbands or fathers tell them to and Republican men are OK with it because she's a 'hotty'.

  • Mimikatz on April 04, 2013 11:37 AM:

    Mark Sanford is a narcissist and a deceiver, of his wife, his staff, the press and his constituents. I'm willing to bet that the pundits who think theropod in his district are all past those issues are men. Of course people can sympathize with someone falling out of love with a woman one just might have married in part for her money and falling in love with a hottie, but men like Edwards, Sanford and Anthony Weiner need to understand that they really ought to make a choice: public life or giving into sexual impulses. That Sanford thinks no one cares what he did is pretty presumptuous. Gingrich doesn't prove him right, though his other baggage is pretty heavy.

    Of course if the community southern and conservative enough it apparently doesn't matter (See Vitter, David) so I could be wrong.

  • Matt on April 04, 2013 11:39 AM:

    “It’s easy to hate the ‘other woman’ when you don’t see her or know anything about her,” Stewart said. “This gives a human face to the other woman. It will make it easier to identify with her and more difficult to judge her.”

    Who's judging her? I'm sure she's a lovely person, and she's not running for anything. And while I don't usually pretend to speak for social conservatives, I think most of them will agree with me on this.

    People who wouldn't vote for him because he was screwing around behind his wife's back aren't going to change their minds just because they can understand why he was tempted. OF COURSE your mistress is going to be a real catch. Why else would you even consider betraying your wife, your children, your responsibility to set a moral example as Governor, and the marriage vows you swore before God?

  • exlibra on April 04, 2013 12:06 PM:

    I can well believe that she showed up unexpectedly. They've been engaged-to-marry for quite while now (if one's to believe the rumours), but no wedding date seems to have been set. If I were her, I too would want to bring the situation to a head -- fish or cut bait, darlin'-- by showing up on what was going to be a well-publicized occasion.

    As for her helping with the women's vote, not that they've seen her? Jenny had given Mark his political start, by -- among other things -- funding his first campaign. And now the ingrate dumps her for another woman, who's not that different in looks, just 10 years younger and less care-worn? That's supposed to make me like him better?

    Peter C, @10:30. What women tell their husbands about how they voted isn't always the truth, you know. I know at least one -- now divorced -- who used to put up with Republican yard signs her husband displayed and go and vote in Republican primaries, but who voted straight ticket Dem. For a while I didn't believe her (she's a Mormon, I figured she was a "natural fit" for Repubs and was just telling me stories she thought would please me) but then she showed up for GOTV -- both on the phone and door-to-door -- for Obama...

  • N.Wells on April 04, 2013 4:03 PM:

    So, I can conclude that the Republican voters who voted for Sanford have by now made their peace with Clinton's past misbehaviors, right?

  • MuddyLee on April 04, 2013 4:08 PM:

    I am surprised that Mark Sanford is making a comeback so soon - BUT - the Charleston area is not as "religious right" as some other parts of the state (Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson for example). Still it's possible a lot of conservatives will stay at home on the day of the general election. Sanford was not all that popular in the state BEFORE the trip to Argentina - but there are some who believe any repub is better than any democrat. I think there's a good chance that he can be defeated by Busch. Hope it's not just wishful thinking.