Mark Sanford announces run for Congress - - Columbia, South Carolina

Mark Sanford announces run for Congress

Mark Sanford Mark Sanford

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has decided to run for Congress.

Wednesday Sanford officially announced he hopes to reclaim his old seat in the 1st Congressional District. That seat was vacated by Tim Scott who was appointed to fill Jim DeMint's Senate seat in December.

"I keep going to the reality that God can use people that are imperfect and hopefully in this case voters in the First Congressional District will choose to use an imperfect man but one who is very clear about what he believes on limited government," said Sanford.

Sanford is framing his campaign on fiscal conservatism. He was on the leading edge of efforts to reduce debt long before Tea Party groups began springing up around the country.

"It's why I was rated number one of all 50 governors as the most fiscally conservative governor in the United States of America," said Sanford. "I didn't fail people there."

Sanford made the announcement official with a news release Wednesday morning.

"I am running because our country's future is at stake if we don't get our hands around runaway government spending in Washington. And given our nation's long-term financial problems, we need more who have shown themselves to be leaders in standing up to the big spenders, regardless of party," said Sanford in the announcement released to the media Wednesday.

Sanford represented South Carolina's 1st Congressional District from 1995-2001 before stepping down to honor a pledge he made to limit his term.  

The defining moment of the Republican's eight years as governor was his disappearance from the state in the summer of 2009 and subsequent admission of an affair with a woman in Argentina.

"You make mistakes in life, that's the reality of life," said Sanford in December of 2010. "You have regrets in life. I think the big question is, where do you go from here?"

U-S-C Public Policy expert Bob Oldendick said Sanford's political life can overcome the affair.

"We're a country of second chances," said Oldendick. "There's this possibility of redemption, so that, after a matter of time and memory fades and there's some healing of wounds it's probably always there that 'Maybe at some point I can make a comeback.'"

He served for eight years as governor. A Winthrop poll conducted days before his exit from office gave Sanford with a 70 percent passing grade from South Carolinians.

Since handing over the office to current Gov. Nikki Haley, Sanford, 52, has stayed clear of the South Carolina political landscape.

Sanford's ex-wife, Jenny, was also considered a contender for the seat. However, she announced last week that she would not run, erasing a potential Sanford vs. Sanford circus.

Several others, such as state Sen. Larry Grooms, Paul Thurmond, and state Rep. Peter McCoy, have expressed interest in filling the seat.

Filing for the seat begins on January 18. The special election takes place in May. 

The 1st District includes Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton and Dorchester Counties.

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