Mark Sanford: Will South Carolina residents vote for him again?
Former Gov. Mark Sanford says he will run for his old congressional seat in South Carolina. A conservative, Sanford had a secret affair with an Argentine woman in 2009.
(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, whose political career was derailed four years ago because of his affair with an Argentine woman, is attempting an improbable comeback.
Once mentioned as a potential 2012 GOP presidential contender, the 52-year-old Republican announced Wednesday he will run for his old congressional seat in his home district along the South Carolina coast. Sanford, a penny-pinching conservative long before the tea party movement, said he is done apologizing for the affair and wants to restore "fiscal sanity" to Washington. He believes voters are ready to give him another shot in office.
"I think what they are most focused on is not the fact I have made a mistake and apologized and have tried to do right in my life since. What they are focused on is their pocketbook and their wallet," Sanford told The Associated Press.
But some have said the affair will be difficult for Sanford to shake. After all, he disappeared from the state for five days in 2009, telling his aides, who told the media, that he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail.
All along, he was in Argentina. When he returned, Sanford confessed to the affair in a tearful news conference and later called Maria Belen Chapur his "soul mate." They couple are engaged and plan to marry this summer.
"He probably will have to apologize at public functions and then talk about what he's learned about himself," said Jeri Cabot, a political scientist from The College of Charleston. "It's still going to be an issue because you're asking people for their vote."
Clemson University political scientist Dave Woodard said voters are generally forgiving. He noted that when Sanford, while still governor, apologized to a women's Republican club in Greenville, "they were very tearfully embracing him."
But running again for office may be different.