Disgraced former governor considers return to politics
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.