Mark Sanford, the former Republican governor of South Carolina who left office under the cloud of an extramarital affair more than two years ago only to mount a political comeback with a special election victory earlier this month, was sworn into the House of Representatives this evening, saying he was “simply humbled to be here.”
Sanford made headlines in 2009 after he skipped the country for Argentina to see his former mistress, now his fiancée, Maria Belen Chapur. The resulting furor prompted Sanford to resign as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, though he completed his term as governor in January 2011.
During his first remarks on the floor this evening, Sanford, who was sworn in by House Speaker John Boehner, acknowledged her presence in the gallery, seated with two of his sons.
“I stand before you as a human being most appreciative in whole new ways for the significance of family and friends,” he said. “I see Belen up there, and I see my sons Marshall and Landon. … I see a long list of different friends and I would thank them for their presence here to share this day.”
Sanford referenced his past transgressions, noting that he appreciated it when a former Democratic colleague in the House called to express support in the wake of his resignation as governor.
“I stand before you I guess with a whole new appreciation indeed for a God of second chances and how in the events of our life – up or down they may be – how everyone of us can be refined as human beings,” he said.
When former Sen. Jim DeMint left the Senate to run the Heritage Foundation earlier this year, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Rep. Tim Scott to replace him, opening up Scott’s House seat, which Sanford held from 1995-2001, for a special election earlier this month.
On May 7, Sanford defeated Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, 54-45.
Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify that Sanford’s resignation was from the chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association.