(CNN) - The last time Mark Sanford held public office, his political career was thought to be over after he admitted to an extra-marital affair.
Now, the former South Carolina governor says he is looking for forgiveness as he mounts a bid for the congressional seat he held from 1995 to 2001.
Whether voters can forgive him, the Republican says, is a personal decision for each individual.
"There's an amazing reservoir of human grace out there, there's a reservoir of God's grace that each of us have to access ourselves as best we can," he said Thursday in a national exclusive interview on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."
Some voters, Sanford said, told him they will consider his background before deciding their vote.
"Forgiveness really is in the hands of the other and I think its incumbent upon each of us to make that decision for ourselves," he said, and he cited his 52 years in the state and two decades in politics.
His political life was thought to have ended in 2009 when he admitted the affair after visiting his girlfriend in Argentina.
He and his former wife, Jenny Sanford, were almost to be pitted against one another on the GOP primary ballot in March after both indicated their interest. But on Monday, Jenny Sanford said she would not seek the nomination, leaving Mark Sanford to formally announce his bid on Wednesday.
The seat is up for a special election after Rep. Tim Scott resigned it upon his appointment to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Jim DeMint's resignation.
Sanford is pitching himself as a fiscal conservative who spoke out on the issues of debt, deficit, and federal spending years ago - issues which are now very much at the forefront.
"We're having a new fiscal crisis, it seems, every couple months," he said. "So what I want to do is take what I've learned and hopefully apply it to again a great conundrum that now exists in Washignton, which is how do we get our financial house in order."
- CNN's Peter Hamby and Ashley Killough contributed to this report