Dis­graced former gov­er­nor con­sid­ers re­turn to pol­i­tics

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Sean­naad­cox

COLUMBIA, S.C. — When Mark San­ford walked out of the gov­er­nor’s man­sion in 2011, he had been cen­sured by the Leg­is­la­ture over state travel ex­penses he used for an af­fair with an Ar­gen­tine woman, had paid the largest ethics fine ever in South Carolina and faced a vot­ing pub­lic that had be­come dis­il­lu­sioned with the one-time ris­ing star.

His con­ser­va­tive fis­cal cre­den­tials were still in­tact though, and now the 52-year-old Repub­li­can is se­ri­ously weigh­ing a bid for the con­gres­sional seat he once held. The open­ing comes be­cause 1st District Rep. Tim Scott was ap­pointed to fill the re­main­ing two years of Sen. Jim DeMint’s seat. DeMint an­nounced ear­lier this month he was re­sign­ing and Scott is ex­pected to be va­cat­ing his con­gres­sional seat on Jan. 2.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing re­ports that he will try to re-en­ter pol­i­tics, the two-term gov­er­nor wrote in an email to the As­so­ci­ated Press late Satur­day: “To an­swer your ques­tion, yes the ac­counts are ac­cu­rate.” San­ford promised “fur­ther con­ver­sa­tion on all this” later.

The two-term gov­er­nor was seen as a pos­si­ble ul­tra­con­ser­va­tive con­tender for the 2012 Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion.

That was be­fore he van­ished from the state for five days in 2009. Re­porters were told he was hik­ing the Ap­palachian Trail, but he later tear­fully ac­knowl­edged he was vis­it­ing Maria Be­len Cha­pur, which he told ev­ery­one at a news con­fer­ence an­nounc­ing his af­fair. He later called her his soul mate in an in­ter­view with AP and the two were en­gaged ear­lier this year.

And to add to pos­si­ble po­lit­i­cal in­trigue in the race, San­ford’s exwife and former cam­paign ad­viser, Jenny, also ap­pears to be dip­ping her toe into the state’s po­lit­i­cal water.

She was on Gov. Nikki Ha­ley’s short list of can­di­dates to fill the DeMint seat that went to Scott. Jenny San­ford later said she would think about a run for Scott’s seat in the coastal 1st District.

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