Mark Sanford considering run for Congress, SC politicians say

December 21, 2012 

Former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford might be getting back into politics.

Sanford is seriously considering running for the 1st District congressional seat he once held, making phone calls to gauge support for his return to elected office, multiple S.C. politicians, speaking off the record, confirmed late Thursday. Some have worked closely with Sanford in the past.

Attempts Friday to reach Sanford for comment were unsuccessful.

“(I) haven't seen numbers, but I’m sure (he can win),” said a GOP operative who once worked for Sanford. “It's a 12-week process. It's who starts with name ID and who can raise enough money to buy name ID. He surely has No. 1. (And he) starts with $100,000 in the bank. I just have no idea what his negatives are.”

Sanford, a two-term Republican governor now living on a family estate in northern Beaufort County, was tea party-frugal before it was politically fashionable, even voting against federal money for the Arthur Ravenel Bridge across the Cooper River in Charleston. He served three terms in the U.S. House, representing the 1st District, before he was elected governor in 2002.

Once considered a possible GOP dark-horse presidential contender, Sanford’s political career unraveled when he disappeared from the Governor’s Mansion, reportedly to walk the Appalachian Trail. Instead, the married father of four was in Argentina seeing his lover. After he was met by a reporter at the Atlanta airport upon his return, Sanford tearfully confessed.

Subsequently divorced from first lady Jenny Sanford, Gov. Sanford escaped impeachment but paid a record state ethics fine for using state assets for his travel to Argentina.

Since leaving office, Sanford has appeared on Fox News as a political expert and commentator.

The 1st District seat is open because U.S. Rep. Tim Scott, R-North Charleston, has been appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley to the U.S. Senate. Scott will succeed Jim DeMint, R-Greenville, who is resigning the Senate to become the new head of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington. A special election will be held early next year to fill Scott’s seat.

The race for the 1st District congressional seat is expected to be crowded.

Check islandpacket.com and beaufortgazette.com for further developments.

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