UPDATED: 4:45 p.m. - This afternoon, Sen. Tim Scott, who Sanford is trying to replace as the House member from the First District, told Republicans that Sanford "merits support."
Patch has learned that Sen. Lindsey Graham will endorse former Gov. Mark Sanford in the First Congressional District race.
The endorsement by one Republican for another in the general election phase might not normally be considered significant, but Graham is the first member of the Congressional delegation to support Sanford publicly.
Graham made the announcement via Twitter in a series of tweets on Wednesday morning. He said, "Let's not forget that when the Democrats controlled everything, we got #ObamaCare and trillions in new debt. #sc1 @MarkSanford."
"The Obama Democrats already control the Senate, making the House of Representatives the last line of defense against the Democratic agenda...The bottom line is that no Republican or conservative independent can afford to sit on the sidelines for this race."
"In Congress, @MarkSanford will vote to cut wasteful spending, eliminate debt & make gov't work for the taxpayer. We need him in Washington."
Gov. Nikki Haley is reportedly attending a fundraiser for Sanford in the Lowcountry today.
Both Graham and Haley are expected to face strong re-election challenges next year. The prospect of the SC1 seat going to a Democrat could hurt their chances, especially Haley's, Graham less so, since his biggest threat appears to from within the SCGOP.
But Graham's backing of Sanford could very well extend beyond political pragmatism. Both men entered the House of Representatives as part of the Republican wave in 1994. And Graham is the godfather to one of Sanford's sons.
The endorsement comes at a critical time for Sanford. He has been abandoned by the NRCC and members of South Carolina's congressional delegation have been quiet about supporting him. Some Republicans in the Lowcountry had asked for that to change.
Sanford has received the public support of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH). The conservative group FreedomWorks has also thrown its supported behind the former governor. Sanford also has received support that he probably did not want.
Election Day is less than a week away on May 7. Sanford will face Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch and Eugene Platt of the Green Party.