Now that former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford has resurrected a once-promising political career by regaining his old House seat, he’ll have to rebuild the reputation that once earned him praise as a possible presidential contender among colleagues.
The Republican preached fiscal responsibility during his first three terms in Congress in the 1990s. But many lawmakers in office more than a decade later know him primarily as the two-term governor who got caught up in a scandal.
Sanford defeated his well-financed Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Colbert Busch. She was a political novice who has never before held elected office in the mostly conservative 1st District, where Sanford had name recognition from his first three terms in Congress and where voters haven’t elected a Democrat in years.
His past experience does give him an advantage in raising his profile once again — a key piece of which will include jockeying for committee assignments.
“He knows how the place works. That’s a huge advantage,” Galen said. “He knows how the game is played.”
Ever since delivering his victory speech Tuesday night, Sanford has remained focused on one issue as he prepares to head to Washington: the economy.
“I have said from the beginning of this campaign we are indeed at a tipping point and if we don’t get things right there will be real consequences for the American dollar, for our savings and for the American way of life,” Sanford told more than 100 supporters at his victory party on Tuesday night.
Indeed, Sanford first raised his national profile by focusing on government spending since he was first elected in 1994. Known for his frugality, Sanford famously slept on a couch in his House office to save money.