Published: Apr 02, 2013 11:46 PM EDT

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (AP) - Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford on Tuesday cleared another hurdle in his bid for political redemption, defeating a former Charleston County council member to win the GOP nomination for the U.S. House seat he held for three terms.
    
"It's been a very long journey. And in that journey I am humbled to find ourselves where we find ourselves tonight," said Sanford, whose political career was derailed four years ago when, as sitting governor, he disappeared from the state only to return to acknowledge an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman.
    
That woman, Maria Belen Chapur, and Sanford are now engaged. She appeared at Sanford's side during his victory speech, smiling and applauding the former governor, who thanked her for being long-suffering while he was campaigning. She did not address the crowd.
    
"I want to thank my God," Sanford said. "I used to cringe when somebody would say I want to thank my God because at that point I would think this is getting uncomfortable. But once you really receive God's grace and (have) seen it reflected in others you stop and acknowledge that grace and the difference He has made in my life and in so many lives across this state and across this nation."
    
With all of the precincts reporting Sanford had about 57 percent of the vote in the 1st District to 43 percent for Curtis Bostic, the former county council member. The candidates were vying in the GOP runoff after they finished as the top two vote-getters in a 16-way GOP primary last month.