Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), one of the House’s more prominent GOP critics of President Trump, lost to an insurgent conservative challenger in the South Carolina primary elections on Tuesday.
Katie Arrington, a state lawmaker who slammed Sanford for being too moderate, will instead represent the party in November in a race that election forecasters still expect to favor Republicans.
Sanford is a member of the Freedom Caucus, but he has been a Trump critic, and that even earned him the outright opposition of the president himself on Election Day.
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. 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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2018
Arrington ran a campaign to Sanford’s far right, portraying him as, as Politico put it, “a disloyal Never Trumper.”
This race popped up on the radar when Politico reported Sanford was going on TV to attack Arrington, which suggested he felt some heat. He isn’t the first House Republican to struggle in 2018 for being insufficiently loyal to the president.
It would take a major wave for the district to become competitive in November, though Cook rates it as merely Likely Republican, rather than Absolutely Without a Doubt Republican.
Trump’s margin of victory in 2016 was narrower than Mitt Romney’s in 2012, but he still won by 13 points. Cook rates it as an R+10 district.