Mark Sanford is running for Congress and, as he makes his debut as a comeback candidate, the disgraced former governor told ABC radio affiliate WTMA in Charleston, S.C., that he's a "flawed man," owning up to his affair that roiled the political world two and a half years ago.
"I'm a sinner and I'm a flawed man but I think God can use flawed men or women and I hope that the voters in this case will choose to use a flawed man," he told the station in an interview.
That baroque tale of his Argentine mistress, divulged at a July 2009news conference after Sanford's claims that he had been hiking on the Appalachian Trail, sank him out of public after his resignation of the governorship. Now, he's running for South Carolina's First Congressional District, and for political redemption.
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Sanford, 52, is after the same seat he represented from 1995 to 2001, this time to replace former Rep. Tim Scott, who was tapped by Gov. Nikki Haley to replace the retiring Sen. Jim DeMint. Sanford formally announced his bid today.
Sanford's indiscretion became the talk of the political world in 2009, as veteran political observers mused that they had never witnessed a sex scandal quite so elaborate. A judge granted Jenny Sanford a divorce from her now-ex-husband in 2010, and Mark Sanford told WTMA that he didn't want to talk much about his personal life. He is now engaged to the journalist he flew to Argentina to see in 2009.
"I don't want to go down the soap opera," Sanford said. "I lived the soap opera three years ago. All I want to say is I love the woman I'm engaged to and I'm going to marry her."
Until his announcement, the possibility of Sanford's comeback had been complicated by rumors that his ex-wife would run for the same seat. Insiders listed her as a potential candidate, and the former governor told WTMA that he sought her approval before entering the race himself.
"I went to the house and I talked to her and I said, 'Look. if you want to do this, then I'm out," Sanford said. "I don't think that there could be anything more ridiculous than a husband and wife running against each other for political office and she said she was out."