FIRST ON CNN: Mark Sanford plans to run for Congress
December 20th, 2012
08:00 PM ET
10 years ago

FIRST ON CNN: Mark Sanford plans to run for Congress

Richmond, Virginia (CNN) - Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is launching a political comeback that may begin within days.

Sanford is planning to run for the Congressional seat he held almost a decade ago, a Republican source familiar with his thinking told CNN late Thursday.

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“He’s looking all but certain to do it,” said a former top aide to Sanford, who did not want to be identified while prematurely revealing the plans.

A formal announcement will come soon, the source said.

Sanford intends to seek the Republican nomination in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, a seat being vacated by Rep. Tim Scott, who was appointed to the United States Senate earlier this week by Gov. Nikki Haley.

Sanford’s first test, the Republican primary, is likely to happen in late March.

Under South Carolina law, the primary must take place 11 weeks after Scott officially resigns his House seat. He is expected to do so in early January.

A runoff election would take place two weeks after the primary, if no candidate receives a majority of votes, followed by a special election in May, a contest that will strongly favor the Republican nominee given the district’s GOP-friendly map.

Sanford, who resides in the Charleston area, represented the coastal district from 1995 to 2001 and had a conservative, almost libertarian voting record, often taking lonely stands on the House floor alongside Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

After his three terms in the House, he ran successfully for governor twice and was eyeing a 2012 presidential bid before he notoriously embarked on an extramarital affair that derailed his national ambitions. He is now engaged to his Argentine fiancee.

Given the sprint-like nature of the special election, Sanford would immediately begin his campaign as a frontrunner for the GOP nomination.

He has greater name recognition than any of his potential rivals, and he still has $124,000 remaining in his congressional campaign account, giving him an immediate financial advantage.

Sanford has been considering a comeback since leaving office, and his timeline accelerated earlier this month when Sen. Jim DeMint announced that he was resigning to run the conservative Heritage Foundation.

That opened the door to Scott’s elevation to the Senate and left a sudden vacancy in the House, offering Sanford his clearest road back into politics.

The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported on Monday that Sanford was “studying” a run for his former House seat.

But two other Republicans exploring a bid for the same seat were complicating his path forward.

His ex-wife, Jenny, a resident of Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, has been courted to run for office for years and was on Haley’s shortlist to replace DeMint in the Senate. She told several media outlets this week that she was open to the idea of running for Scott’s House seat.

But Mark Sanford’s apparent decision to run for Congress is a strong signal that Jenny Sanford will not: He has made clear to confidantes in recent days that he would not embark on a campaign that pitted him against his ex-wife.

Sanford’s former chief-of-staff Tom Davis, now a state legislator, has also been mentioned as a possible candidate, but sources say he is also unlikely to run.

Almost a dozen Republicans have made noise about running for the seat, with two figures - state Sen. Larry Grooms and state Rep. Chip Limehouse - emerging as top-tier candidates alongside Sanford.

Filed under: Mark Sanford
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    So are the people of South Carolina really going to vote in this clown who lied to them and was AWOL from his job? What trail is he going to hike down next? Sheesh...

    December 20, 2012 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  2. Former Republican, now an Independent

    Just what the country needs, another over the edge, fanatical neo-con to obstruct any and all progress.

    December 20, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  3. plain&simple

    Ignorance,arrogance,ego and delusions....another leader of republicans who must enjoy being oblivious to the world around them!!

    December 20, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  4. Evergreen

    Wow! Pass the popcorn, this is going to be fun.

    December 20, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  5. Marie MD

    He will be the next darling of the tea trolls and repugs . . . "He has greater name recognition than any of his potential rivals, and he still has $124,000 remaining in his congressional campaign account, giving him an immediate financial advantage."
    I am sure, it IS SC after all, they have forgotten that he left his sons alone on Father Day's weekend to hike the Argentinan, oops, sorry, the Appalachian!
    I have to give it to his wife though. She did NOT stand by or behind her man. He was on his own.

    December 20, 2012 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  6. Squigman

    It's okay. The man followed his heart, and should not be scrutinized by the masses for doing so. He did do the honorable thing when confronted, and owned up to what he felt was wrong with his former marriage. Then he followed what he envisioned to be a better outcome for both the ex and himself. He didn't lie. He didn't try to act as if nothing happened. He did what he thought was right. Can't fault him for this. Is he electable? You decide.

    December 20, 2012 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  7. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    Oh, goody ... another clown for the Republican circus!

    December 20, 2012 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  8. Milagros

    I really don't care about his personal life, but why do we need the same old, career politicians running for office. How about some new blood ! Give it up man! Retire already.

    December 20, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  9. EPAB

    He'll win. the religious hypocrites will vote for him.

    December 20, 2012 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  10. freehawk52

    Brazilian woman didn't work out?

    December 20, 2012 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  11. Randy, San Francisco

    Mark Sanford must be running as the poster glamour boy of the conservative family values GOP/Tea Party.

    December 20, 2012 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  12. roro

    Give me a break! Will he be disappearing on a "hike in the mountains" on a regular basis? Or will he just disappear to another continent like a lovesick bird migrating? This man is a mess and not at all worthy of elected office.

    December 20, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  13. Patrick in Wisconsin

    If the Democrats ever had a chance to pick up a seat in South Carolina, this is it. Run, Mark run!

    December 20, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  14. RCinMaryland

    This is a joke right??? NO, stop it, really? This is the "everbody could see how much I'm in love with my girlfriend even though I have a wife and two boys at home...not to mention an entire state...all of whom I lied to saying that I would be 'hiking the trail'" guy.


    December 20, 2012 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  15. J. Snedeker

    Sorry, Mark, this only works if your'e a Democrat.

    December 20, 2012 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  16. Usher73

    Who's going to vote for someone who thinks the Appalachian Trail is in South America?

    December 20, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  17. Snookum's

    Ewweeee! Just what we don't need.

    December 20, 2012 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  18. SecrtSqurl

    Typical politician.

    December 20, 2012 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  19. Jack Wagon

    He will run on his strong family values platform just like The Palin

    December 20, 2012 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  20. TomNPitt

    This sure won't cause any issues. Things are such a mess in Washington, they won't even miss him on his Appalachian excursions. The Family Values Party. Oh, it's a party alright!!!

    December 20, 2012 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  21. jane

    So, is the Appalachian Trail part of this Congressional district? I commend him for following his heart years ago, but he had better not have the gall (and blatant hypocrisy), like Gingrich, to run his campaign on "family values".....

    December 20, 2012 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  22. An Observer

    These republican dimbulbs never learn!

    December 20, 2012 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  23. LouAZ

    What ? Mark Sanford ? Wasn't Attila the Hun available ? Jack the Ripper ? Hugh Hefner ? George McFuffie ? John Calhoun ? Preston Brooks ? Is this the only guy available in the long history of South Carolina exemplary politicians ?
    Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know you Carolnians think Mark Sanford is an exemplary politican. Ooops.

    December 20, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  24. JD

    I have to wonder how many intellectually vacant citizens will vote for this corrupt professional politician and then wonder, as always happens, why this country and this government is in such a screwed up mess.

    December 20, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  25. Republicans Are The American Taliban

    He is the perfect "family values" candidate!

    December 20, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
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