Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is the latest fallen politician to attempt a comeback from the realm of late-night joke fodder. He announced today he'll seek the 1st District Congressional seat vacated by Republican Tim Scott who was chosen to replace recently-retired Senator Jim DeMint. WFAE's Julie Rose has the story.
Mark Sanford sort of always kept the door open to this day.
During an exit interview as Sanford was leaving the Governor's office two years ago, I asked if he'd considered that maybe his political career wasn't over?
"That's about the last thing in the world I would have thought, given the obvious last storm of life," said Sanford. "But a lot of friends have suggested that and I've said, 'I think you're getting way ahead of yourself. Let's just take it a day at a time.'"
"The storm" is what he'd taken to calling that June 2009 day when he returned from a mysterious five-day disappearance allegedly hiking the Appalachian Trail, but in reality, visiting his secret mistress in Argentina over Father's Day weekend.
Sanford served out the last 18 months of his second term– despite censure from state lawmakers and charges that he used the state plane for personal trips. He paid $74,000 to settle those charges, all the while insisting that despite his shortcomings, God had more work for him to do.
"Miraculous" is what he calls the series of events that has left open the same Charleston-area congressional seat he held for six years before he became Governor.
Winthrop political scientist Scott Huffmon says the current political climate is fortuitous for Sanford.
"The issues about the fiscal cliff, fiscal policies taxing, spending, the debt and deficit – he was always the strongest spokesman on these topics when he was in Congress, when he was Governor, and he will be playing with his traditional message – he won't have to change it," says Sanford.
In a press release announcing his candidacy, Sanford says "Our country's future is at stake if we don't get our hands around runaway government spending in Washington."
The Republican primary for the 1st Congressional seat is March 19.
The general election will be on May 7 – which is why Sanford says he'll delay the early summer wedding he'd been planning with his Argentine mistress-turned-fiancée. But he tells the National Review Online, "I'm going to marry her, it's just that simple."