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Ex-SC Gov. Sanford done apologizing, ready to run

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 16, 2013 at 2:22 pm •  Published: January 16, 2013
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"We've seen great instances of Democrats coming back, I don't see why Republicans can't come back, too," she said.

Before leaving office, Sanford avoided impeachment but was censured by the Legislature over state travel expenses he used for the affair. He also paid what is still the largest ethics fine ever in South Carolina at $70,000.

His tearful confession, though, cost him his marriage to his then-wife, Jenny, who was also his closest political confidant and campaign manager.

She later wrote a tell-all book about their relationship, and flirted with the idea of running for the 1st District seat. But the mother of four boys with Mark Sanford scrapped those plans this week, saying being at home with family was more important than running for Congress.

Gov. Sanford spent his last 18 months in office traveling around the state, asking for forgiveness.

"The apology tour, if you want to call it that, is over. All you can do is say I'm sorry. But at some point, you have to lift up your head and start moving and I'm at that point," he said.

Sanford has the instant name recognition and could, if he gets permission from donors, tap into $1.1 million he has remaining in his gubernatorial campaign fund.

The district reaches from the sea islands with million-dollar oceanfront homes northeast of Charleston to southwest along the coast to the gated communities of Hilton Head Island, with its many Yankee transplants. When Sanford ran in the 1990s, the district reached into more conservative Horry County, but that area has been split and is now part of another district.

Teddy Turner, the son of media magnate Ted Turner, has said he will seek the GOP nomination in the district. Several state lawmakers have also announced plans to run, although the official filing for the race doesn't open until Friday. The primary is March 19.

South Carolina voters haven't had much of an appetite for political comebacks for officials who make headlines for a faux pas or controversy. Former Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer couldn't overcome his personal troubles with speeding, a plane crash and other controversies to win the governor's office or a congressional seat, and former Gov. David Beasley's couldn't shake his support for removing the Confederate flag from the Statehouse dome when he ran for office again.

Gov. Nikki Haley, another tea party favorite, said she wasn't surprised Sanford was getting back into politics.

"He is someone who is very involved in policy and has always loved politics. This is going back home for him, his old congressional seat," she said.