Remember when Mark Sanford was hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and you just knew there was some other shoe that was going drop? That's sort of how his congressional campaign has gone, too. He easily dispatched his challengers in a primary and runoff, then sped ahead to the general election, where he faces Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch. But you just knew it couldn't be that easy.
This is the week the wheels came off. First, there was the bizarre revelation that Jenny Sanford had filed a complaint with police about her ex-husband trespassing at her house. (His rather limp excuse: He was trying to watch the Super Bowl with his son.) But it apparently wasn't the first time. She also complains that he has failed to make a mandatory $5,000 contribution to one of their sons' college costs, as well as violating a divorce clause insisting that "no airplanes will be flown at the children" (no one is sure what this means).
All that was enough for the National Republican Congressional Committee to cut loose. Though their statement is cloaked in the language of confidence -- "Mark Sanford has proven he knows what it takes to win elections" -- it looks like jumping ship. That's not an irrational move: Sanford is badly tainted, so the NRCC has little to lose and much to gain by distancing themselves. If he wins, he'll still be with them. If he loses, Colbert Busch will be hard-pressed to win reelection in 2014 in a staunchly red first district (no Democrat has won there since 1978).