CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — It's a congressional race featuring political drama, big names and big money — everything that can make American politics so fascinating.
The special election in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District next month pits a former governor seeking political redemption after his career was derailed by an extramarital affair against the sister of one of the nation's most popular political satirists.
"It's a dream matchup if you're a fan and enjoy politics," said Gibbs Knotts, the chairman of the political science department at the College of Charleston.
The field was set Tuesday night when former Gov. Mark Sanford, who was the top vote-getter in a 16-way GOP primary last month, defeated former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic in the Republican runoff.
He faces Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, in the May 7 special election.
Green Party candidate Eugene Platt will also be on the ballot in the coastal district that runs from northeast of Charleston southwest along the coast to the resort island of Hilton Head.
"Everyone knows who Sanford is and I suspect by the end of this, everyone will know who Elizabeth Colbert Busch is," Knotts said.
The 1st District seat became open when Republican Tim Scott was appointed to fill the remaining two years of U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint's term. DeMint resigned to lead The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
Four years ago as governor, Sanford was mentioned as a potential GOP presidential candidate. But he vanished from the state for five days and reporters were told he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.
He later returned and tearfully acknowledged at a Statehouse news conference he had been in Argentina visiting Maria Belen Chapur, with whom he was having an extramarital affair. Sanford's wife Jenny later divorced him.
Sanford is now engaged to Chapur, who still lives in Argentina and made her first public campaign appearance with him during a visit on Tuesday night. Sanford said she surprised him by attending.
"She's going to show up when she wants to show up," Sanford said when asked if she would be campaigning. "She's going to be a part of what she wants to be part of and if she doesn't want to be part of it, she won't. She's a very private person."