- Associated Press - Friday, June 10, 2016

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Three congressional seats are up for grabs next week in South Carolina, including one held by an incumbent GOP congressman who as governor came under fire for lying about his whereabouts when he was out of the country with a woman who wasn’t his wife.

Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford is one of two congressional incumbents to face challengers in the primary. The other is Mick Mulvaney. On the Democratic side, two candidates will face off for the right to take on GOP incumbent Joe Wilson in November.

Sanford faces state Rep. Jenny Horne of Summerville in the Lowcountry’s 1st District, the race that has attracted the most attention. In the 5th District along the North Carolina border, Mulvaney, first elected six years ago, faces Ray Craig of Lake Wylie.

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1st District

Sanford has a decided edge over Horne in terms of money on hand for the final push in the race between the two candidates.

While governor, Sanford disappeared for five days in 2009, telling his staff he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, only to confess on his return that he had been in Argentina with a woman who later became his fiancee. He later agreed to pay $74,000 in ethics fines - the most in state history - to resolve dozens of travel-related ethics charges related to the trip. He was elected again to his old congressional seat in 2013.

Horne, an eight-year state House veteran from Summerville, attracted national attention last year for her impassioned speech in Columbia calling for the removal of the Confederate flag after the slayings of nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.

Federal Election Commission filings show Sanford has spent just under $100,000 in the election cycle that began Jan. 1, 2015 and had $965,000 entering the final weeks of the campaign. Horne had spent almost $120,000 but had only $3,700 on hand.

The two met in one debate, in which, among other things, they disagreed about Donald Trump.

Sanford said if Trump is elected, he will work with him when possible, but he also remarked that Trump “says some things which are very, very strange, some of which are destructive.” Horne countered that Trump is helping the GOP to grow and “what Donald Trump is appealing to is the anger and frustration that a lot of us feel in the U.S.”

The victor of the race will be considered the favorite to win the Republican-leaning district in November’s contest against Democrat Dimitri Cherny, Libertarian Michael Grier Jr. and American Party candidate Albert Travison.

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5th District

Craig, who does ministerial and nonprofit work, acknowledges that his campaign to unseat Mulvaney is a longshot.

But he says Mulvaney was also considered a long shot in 2010 when he unseated Democrat John Spratt, who had represented the district for 28 years. Mulvaney has not had primary opposition since then. Craig says the incumbent is too conservative, while he sees himself as just right-of-center.

Mulvaney had about $300,000 cash on hand entering the final days of the campaign. Craig had not filed any spending reports according to the FEC website. Candidates must file with the FEC when their contributions or spending exceeds $5,000.

The GOP winner will be favored to win the Republican-leaning district over both Democrat Fran Person and the winner of the American Party primary.

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2nd District

Democratic candidates running in the 2nd district covering the state’s Midlands are vying for the right to face incumbent Republican Joe Wilson, who was first elected to the seat in 2001.

Phil Black of Lexington, who is semi-retired and ran as a Republican four years ago, is facing off against Arik Bjorn of Columbia, who says on his website that he used to work for the South Carolina SmartState Program and Health Sciences South Carolina.

FEC reports showed that Black has spent $7,700 this election cycle and had no cash on hand entering the final days of the primary campaign. Bjorn had spent about $17,000 and had $500 on hand.

Wilson, who has no primary opponent, and who defeated Black handily in 2014, has more than $450,000 cash on hand for the general election. He is heavily favored to win this year as well.

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