Mark Sanford may have stepped over the line one too many times for voters in the 1st Congressional District.

He certainly passed that point a long time ago with his ex-wife.

When the National Republican Congressional Committee said thanks, but no thanks, to supporting Sanford in the race against Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, even the most strident members of the party must be starting to get nervous.

In a he-said, she-said development we learned that Jenny Sanford filed a complaint last month accusing Mark Sanford of trespassing at her Sullivan's Island home.

Now, some might say trespassing is too strong a word, since according to his statement, he was there to watch the Super Bowl with their 14-year-old son, “because as a father I didn't think he should watch it alone.” Nice touch.

Football, family, father-son time. Nothing wrong there.

Unless Jenny didn't know. And by all accounts, she didn't.

Maybe for some this would be something to handle privately, but of course, this is where it gets complicated. According to court papers, Mark Sanford has a history — going back at least two years — of showing up at his ex-wife's house without her permission.

She has gone so far as to alert the Sullivan's Island police department that he's not wanted there.

If only the voters would do the same.

Golden opportunity

Even after Mark Sanford's campaign released a statement about the incident Wednesday, a lot of questions remained unanswered, particularly why the Colbert Busch campaign didn't jump all over it.

It could be that Colbert Busch doesn't want to open herself up to questions about her own divorce, though she has used her status as a former single mom as a way to connect with voters.

Colbert Busch also has staked a portion of her campaign tent on equal pay, even mentioning pay disparities in the governor's office during Mark Sanford's tenure, but has yet to push back about his treatment of women.

Now, when presented with such a golden opportunity, there's silence. This can either be seen as taking the high road or missing the boat.

Maybe this was the strategy all along, wait for his campaign to implode. Except this is South Carolina politics.

Short-term memory

An “R” after a candidate's name still means a lot here, even if the last name is Sanford.

There have been murmurs all along that it's Republican women who will decide this race. This week's events certainly will add new fuel to that fire. And with good reason.

Project XX , whose stated mission is to help get smart women elected to public office and appointed to state boards and commissions, recently released a video about the campaign. The gist of it was women may have forgiven Mark Sanford for his transgressions — lying to the public, misuse of taxpayer funds, making South Carolina a national punch line. But they won't forget.

We'll find out May 7 if the voters feel the same way.

Reach Melanie Balog at 937-5565 or