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TV Wars: Mark Sanford vs. the World
PHOTO: Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford attends ceremonies rolling out the Boeing 787 Dreamliner built for Air India, April 27, 2012, in North Charleston, South Carolina.

(Image Credit: Paul J. Richards /AFP/Getty Images)

Mark Sanford wants you to know that he has learned from his mistakes and will try to change Washington if he gets there.

That's the message of his first TV ad, now visible on cable airwaves in Charleston, S.C., where the former governor is attempting the political comeback of the decade. With more ads to come, Sanford has reserved $160,000 worth of TV time before the March 19 primary, according to his campaign.

Sanford, who famously resigned the governorship amid an Argentinian affair, faces 15 other candidates in his race to reclaim the state's First Congressional District, which he represented from 1995 to 2001, before assuming the governorship. Just about every kind of local pol has come out to oppose him: current and former state legislators; a sheriff; a personal-injury lawyer; a former JAG officer; a former Secret Service agent; a school-board trustee; and a local high school teacher, to name a few.

"Our message is simple: I've learned a lot over the past few years about grace and forgiveness, but one thing hasn't changed. And that's my absolute commitment to watching out for taxpayers and getting spending under control," Sanford wrote in an email to supporters announcing the new ad.

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Sanford, 52, is the odds-on favorite, according to a Republican source in the state, but he'll need to reach more than 50 percent in the primary to avoid a runoff. With so many other candidates, that could be tough. The runoff would be held April 2.

The former governor wasn't first to launch an air attack, by any means.

One of his more promising opponents seems to be Teddy Turner, son of the media magnate Ted Turner. A high school economics teacher in Charleston, Turner had been running ads before he filed for the race in mid-January, and he ran them during both the AFC and NFC championship NFL games, according to a source in the state.

Turner is relatively unknown as a political presence in the state, and his ads have introduced him to voters. In this one, which debuted Feb. 12, Turner takes a subtle jab at Sanford: "What I'm not is a career politician," Turner says to the camera.