Ousted Trump-bashing Rep. Mark Sanford acknowledges his political career is likely over

Anti-Trump South Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Sanford, who was unseated in a dramatic primary vote Tuesday night after the president urged voters to oust him, told Fox News' "The Story with Martha MacCallum" on Wednesday that his political career is likely over.

"That would certainly be my take," Sanford said when asked if critics are right that the defeat puts a permanent end to his time in elected office. But, Sanford also said, "never say never."

The primary vote could mark the conclusion of a stunning fall for Sanford, whose scandal-pocked career nearly ended in 2009, when he acknowledged having a secret extramarital affair with a woman in Argentina while serving as South Carolina's governor. The scandal earned him the nickname "Luv Gov."


But he staged a political comeback in 2013, winning the House seat in the district he had earlier represented for six years.

That all came crashing back down on Tuesday, when Sanford's opponent, political newcomer Katie Arrington, defeated him in a GOP primary battle that largely served as a referendum on his anti-Trump rhetoric.

"The race ultimately was reduced down to who was more Trump, versus not, and I lost that race," Sanford acknowledged.

"The warning is for all of us," Sanford continued ominously. "When you look at my actual voting record, I've been with the president 89 percent of the time ... I love my brothers and sisters; doesn't mean I agree with them 100 percent of the time."

Sanford, however, refused to criticize Trump for bashing him on Twitter and endorsing his challenger just hours before polls closed.

"It's America, everyone's gonna do what they're gonna do, and the president certainly has his prerogative to do what he wants to do on that front.

"The issue is -- do we want to have litmus tests and allegiance tests in running for office?" Sanford asked. He described it as a "wake-up call."

"I fully endorse Katie Arrington for Congress in SC, a state I love," tweeted Trump as voters headed to the polls on Tuesday. "She is tough on crime and will continue our fight to lower taxes. VOTE Katie!"

By contrast, Trump said that Sanford "has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to [Make America Great Again]. He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is better off in Argentina."

Trump doubled down on the tweet on Wednesday, saying he had to get involved in the race because Sanford was "so bad."

Asked whether he would consider forming a splinter party with fellow anti-Trump Republican Bob Corker, a Tennessee senator, Sanford declined to give a definitive answer, saying he was focused on the short-term.

Fox News' Martha MacCallum contributed to this report.