South Carolina has a reputation for dirty politics, and the 1st congressional district race already has served up a new twist on an old practice: a fake URL.

Web surfers visiting the site, hikingtheappalachiantrail.net, are redirected to former Gov. Mark Sanford’s campaign site, marksanford.com.

Sanford’s success in this year’s GOP primary has become a national story, largely because the last time he made national news was for his June 2009 decision to leave the state to visit his mistress in Argentina. His staff said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Sanford faces Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch and Green party candidate Eugene Platt in a May 7 special election.

Asked about the phony URL, Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said Wednesday, “We appreciate the web traffic.”

“Throughout this race, the Democrats are going to try to talk about everything and anything except for what these candidates believe and what are their prescriptions for the economy and the federal budget,” he added.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.