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Two former and controversial political figures are now in the 1st Congressional District race, though one is a bigger surprise than the other.

As expected, two-term Gov. Mark Sanford will formally join the field today by issuing a press statement confirming that he will go after the seat he held for three terms previously, beginning in the 1990s.

The move will be his first ballot test among Republicans and other voters since the final months of his term as governor were overshadowed by his affair with an Argentine woman, now his fiancee.

Meanwhile, former Dorchester County Sheriff Ray Nash also jumped in Tuesday.

His announcement came as he is currently in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he said he will resign his position as criminal justice adviser for the U.S. Embassy.

“Due to the recent attacks on our Constitutional freedoms, I was gravely concerned that I would no longer recognize my country upon my return,” Nash’s emailed statement read. “Then I realized I had a clear opportunity to do something about it by running for Congress.”

His daughter, Kelsey Nash, confirmed the note was genuine.

Nash will run as a Republican. He will be back in the U.S. within the next week or so, Kelsey Nash said.

Nash served three terms as sheriff but did not seek re-election in 2008 after various controversies arose.

He also drew attention for his strict discipline while in office that included hanging a Ten Commandments plaque in his office, and said it was God’s will that he serve as sheriff.

In other 1st District events, former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic formally kicked off his bid.

Another declared candidate, Teddy Turner, announced a campaign launch reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at the Lighthouse on Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant.

State Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau, will have his formal kick-off at 3 p.m. Thursday at Scout Boats on U.S. Highway 78 west in Summerville.

The seat became open when Gov. Nikki Haley picked Tim Scott to fill the U.S. Senate vacancy created by Jim DeMint’s resignation.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.