Key dates

March 19: Republican and Democratic primaries

April 2: Primary runoff (if needed)

May 7: Special election

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Post and Courier plans to profile all 18 Republican and Democratic 1st Congressional District candidates by the March 19 primaries. This is the 12th installment.

Mark Sanford

Birth date: May 28, 1960

Education: B.A., Furman University; MBA, University of Virginia

Occupation: Commercial real estate, board member for several businesses.

Previous offices held: 1st Congressional District, 1995-2001; Governor 2003-2011.

Family: Four sons

Why I’m running: “Because our nation is at a tipping point and if we don’t get spending, debt and deficits under control, there will be tragic consequences for the American way of life.”

Proudest accomplishment: “As governor, our administration eliminated nearly $1 billion in debt and deficit. Rated the most financially conservative Governor in America, and first in Congress in watching out for the taxpayer.”

Contact information: www.marksanford.com; mark@marksanford.com; 843-764-9188.

BY ROBERT BEHRE

Read more

read more

For more coverage, go to postandcourier.com/first-district.

rbehre@postandcourier.com

Former Gov. Mark Sanford said when the 1st Congressional District seat he once held was vacated by Tim Scott’s appointment to the U.S. Senate, he did not expect to seek it.

“For all the obvious reasons, I thought my time in politics was over,” he said.

Those obvious reasons include the way his second gubernatorial term ended, specifically the scandal he created when he left the country in 2009. His staff said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, but Sanford was actually meeting his mistress in Argentina.

The incident helped end his marriage to Jenny Sanford, the woman who helped guide his political career and led to scrutiny of his travels and his payment of a record $74,000 ethics fine.

But Sanford said once the seat opened up, he got calls from several people, including his old friend and ally, Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, urging him to run.

“You were talking about debt and deficit spending in Washington 15 years ago when people weren’t really focusing on it,” Sanford recalled Davis telling him.

As a three-term congressman from 1995-2001, Sanford did not get many bills passed but developed a reputation as a taxpayer hero for his opposition to federal spending and his concern over the stability of entitlement programs such as Social Security. He even slept

“You were talking about debt and deficit spending in Washington 15 years ago when people weren’t really focusing on it,” Sanford recalled Davis telling him.

As a three-term congressman from 1995-2001, Sanford did not get many bills passed but developed a reputation as a taxpayer hero for his opposition to federal spending and his concern over the stability of entitlement programs such as Social Security. He even slept in his office to save money.

Sanford said he agreed to run again because he feels the nation is at “an incredible tipping point” if it doesn’t rein in its debt.

Sanford has been accused of running “an apology tour” on his current campaign, but he also has described how his downfall has an upside.

“Part of what I bring is a newfound level of humility that I think is absolutely vital in forming relationships and having conversations in a place like Washington, D.C.,” he said. “One of the reasons things don’t get done in Washington is everybody is so absolutely certain of their viewpoint they’re not going to listen to somebody else’s viewpoint.”

“I have my deficiencies, and they’re all laid out now, but I also have my strengths,” he added, “and one of them has been conviction.”

Those strengths also include an in-depth knowledge of issues and a polished speaking style acquired during his six years in Washington, as well as his eight years in Columbia.

He is campaigning on his record as governor, including his backing the first cut in the state’s marginal income tax rate, his being the nation’s first governor to turn back federal stimulus dollars and his support of preserving rural land through the state’s new conservation bank.

While Sanford backed term limits his first time, he now is pointing out that he would have more seniority than 60 percent of current GOP congressmen if his three earlier terms are counted. That could pay off in terms of committee assignments, he noted.

If elected, Sanford said he would tackle the debt by addressing entitlements — where most of the federal spending is. He said he favors moving to a block grant system for Medicaid and changing Medicare along the lines of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan and using individual retirement accounts.

He has been received politely by voters on the campaign trail, though opponents have taken more shots at him than any others in the 16-candidate field.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.