Candidate: Mark Sanford
Age: 53 (turns 54 later this month)
Political party: Republican
Elected position you are seeking (name of position, district number): 1st Congressional District
Number of years living in the district you seek to represent: Over 20 years, excluding time in the Governor's Office. Spent a whole lot of time growing up in Beaufort County, and moved there permanently in high school.
Family: Four children -- Marshall, Landon, Bolton, Blake
Education: B.A., Furman University; MBA, Darden School of Business at University of Virginia
Current occupation/employer: Independent commercial and industrial real-estate investor; also serve on the corporate board of Lending Tree and Coastal Resource Management
Employment, military and volunteer history: Former captain in the Air Force Reserve; founding partner, Norton & Sanford Real Estate
Previous public offices: U.S. House of Representatives, 1st Congressional District, 1995-2001; governor of South Carolina, 2003-2011
Unsuccessful runs for public office and when: None
Other prior political and government experience: None
Key endorsements you've received: Sen. Tom Davis, Rep. Andy Patrick, Rep. Bill Herbkersman, former Sen. Scott Richardson, Beaufort County Councilman Rick Caporale, Hilton Head Island Town Councilman John McCann, County Council Chairman Paul Sommerville, former Beaufort County Republican Party Chairwoman Rachel Buie, Beaufort County Councilman Jerry Stewart, Joe Fragale, S.C. Human Affairs commissioner and former state Superintendent of Schools Barbara Nielsen, Hilton Head Island Councilman Lee Edwards, Bluffton Town Councilman Ted Huffman, Beaufort County Councilman Tabor Vaux, former S.C. House Rep. Edie Rodgers, past Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce chairman David Tigges, local businessman Andy Twisdale, Lowcountry Advisory Committee member for SCANA Corp. Mary Amonitti, physician with Hilton Head's Volunteers in Medicine Bill Bilek, former Hilton Head Island Republican Club president Richard Geraghty, and immediate Beaufort Republican Women's Club past president Susan Dickson
Why should people vote for you? In watching out for the taxpayer my efforts are unique -- both the National Taxpayers Union and Citizens Against Government Waste rated me No. 1 amongst all my peers for my efforts to reduce government spending and taxation, and the CATO Institute rated me as the most fiscally conservative governor in America. I have pushed to expand and open the marketplace, which is in strong contrast to the beliefs of my opponents.
What are the three most important issues you would address if elected?
1. I believe debt and deficits is one of the most important issues facing the 1st District and the United States at large. I believe that if we don't get our financial house in order, there will be real consequences for the American dollar, future inflation, our savings and frankly the American way of life and the dreams that it has afforded. Congressional Budget Office numbers show that when you approach 100 percent debt to GDP, there is a drag on the economy somewhere between 1 and 1.7 percent, and this has a real impact on both per capita income and jobs, and consequent savings.
2. Jobs come next. As governor, our administration saw more capital investment come to South Carolina -- $24 billion -- than during any other eight year period in South Carolina history. This included Boeing's initial investment in North Charleston. I would work to build on this in Congress, whether as an advocate for the port or as a voice for small business. Legislatively, I believe we need a fairer, flatter, simpler tax structure, as well as a more predictable regulatory environment.
3. I think we live in a unique part of the world. Accordingly, we have an obligation to look for ways to balance significant growth with preserving the look and feel of the Lowcountry. The focus I put into the job before led to the results I'd work to replicate, in which we preserved and protected more land than any other prior governorship in South Carolina history.
3. What other issues do you see as important? I think that our approach to job creation is a very important one. If you look at my opponent's belief on the stimulus package compared to mine, if you look at her economic support both from national parties and from unions, there's a real contrast. In fact the very union that brought the case before the National Labor Relations Board has supported her, as have many other unions. The union perspective, while by no means evil, is in strong contrast to the open and free market system that has very much benefited South Carolina in economic formation and capital development relative to a lot of other states. As governor I saw firsthand the companies, like Boeing, that wanted to come to SC, as it is a right to work state. Secondly I reject the belief that jobs are grown by government stimulating the economy and instead would argue that government providing the right soil conditions for businesses to grow, as my administration strived to in Columbia, with tax cuts, regulatory reform or legal reform, is the way to create jobs.
4. What specific steps will you take to make government more open and accessible to the public?
I would look to replicate much of what we did in the Governor's Office and during my previous time in Congress, with "Open Door after Four" office hours, where any citizen in S.C. could come by for a visit, and neighborhood office hours which were in local businesses. I would institute monthly office hours back here in the district, and would open a full-time Beaufort office. In this case I believe past is prologue as I pushed for and ultimately was successful in campaign finance law changes and open disclosure, which we ultimately pushed with the ethics commission. This is in real contrast to my opponent, who has deleted a large number of public communications she previously made and her avoidance of debates, which I feel are important to the democratic process.
5. Have you ever been convicted of a crime (felony), been disciplined by a professional licensing board or organization or had an ethics violation filed against you?
As chronicled recently in an op-ed we had published in your paper, we did decide to pay an ethics fine in 2010 in an effort to move past the issue, even though we stand by our belief we would have been cleared of all charges had we proceeded. I would simply refer folks back to the op-ed published here for further details.
6. Have you ever filed for bankruptcy, been delinquent on your federal, state or local taxes?
7. Are there any personal details about yourself that voters would be interested in knowing?
I have come to believe that in many ways you learn far more in the valleys of life than in its mountaintops. I have grasped in a new way the meaning of God's grace and its reflection in others. I listen in ways I never did before. I approach many things differently and with a far greater level of humility, and recognize the consequence of my failure is that some will never see a way to a second chance, but am amazed by the number who do.
Click here to find campaign finance information from the Federal Election Commission for Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch.