Lowcountry’s Sanford announces run for president

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Former South Carolina Governor and U.S. Representative (R-SC-1) Mark Sanford announced Sunday, Sept. 8 that he will run as a Republican candidate for president, presenting a primary challenge for President Trump. 

Sanford, 59, had been considering a run for some time but delayed an announcement of his decision just a week earlier, saying he wanted to wait until the threat of Hurricane Dorian had passed the Lowcountry.

Sanford announced his decision on Fox News Sunday before explaining his decision in a series of eight posts from his Twitter account later in the morning. 

Here is Sanford’s complete statement on Twitter:

“I am compelled to enter the Presidential Primary as a Republican for several reasons – the most important of which is to further and foster a national debate on our nation’s debt, deficits and spending. We have a storm coming that we are neither talking about nor preparing for given that we, as a country, are more financially vulnerable than we have ever been since our Nation’s start and the Civil War. We are on a collision course with financial reality. We need to act now.

As I have watched the Democrat debates I hear no discussion, or even recognition, of what is occurring. Instead I hear a laundry list of new unpaid for political promises. On the Republican side, spending is up well above President Obama.

@realDonaldTrump has ruled out action on the very things that drive spending and accumulated debt.

Debate is even being canceled on the Republican side, though I believe we need a conversation and action more than ever given our present course.

Essentially no one “leading” in Washington is leading, or even speaking of, our financial predicament. We are living in a government spending and financial la-la land. Which brings me to the larger question of what I, or any of us, can do about it?

I have a unique vantage point and set of experiences – as a Governor, as a Member of Congress and as a taxpayer outside of politics. I do believe we must have this conversation now and humbly I step forward.

I respect the view of many Republican friends who have suggested that I not run, but I simply counter that competition makes us stronger. I believe competition of ideas is good, not bad, for the Republican Party and for our country.

I ask for your wisdom, prayers, suggestions and time along the road ahead. Please join us – get involved – and know how much I would appreciate hearing from you.”

Much of Sanford’s announcement was reiterated in a press release Monday. In addition to the things he mentioned in his statement, he added that he hopes to bring “civility and humility” back to government. 

“The President’s approach has hampered needed debate and while he is often good in recognizing what’s been ailing many Americans, he has not been as skillful in producing the ‘hows’ of fixing what’s wrong,” Sanford said in the release. “In many cases he has simply railed against the system, and while there are big parts of Washington that need repair, throwing out institutions and traditions that have tempered the fiery spirits of politics for more than 200 years would be a mistake – particularly if you are a conservative.”

Sanford joins former Massachusetts Governor William Weld and former U.S. Representative Joe Walsh (R-IL-8) as challengers to President Trump in the Republican primary field.

How successful that challenge can be remains to be seen, however.

GOP officials in several states, including here in South Carolina, are trying to cancel the 2020 primaries, making it nearly impossible for challengers to gain the delegates necessary to pose any real threat to Donald Trump.

And Trump has indicated he has no interest in debating his challengers, Republican or Democrat.

Sanford was South Carolina’s representative for the 1st Congressional District from 1995 to 2001 before being elected governor over Democrat Jim Hodges in 2002.

He served two terms as governor and was known for being a fiscal hawk. His second term, however, was marred when, in 2009, he disappeared for roughly a week. His staff had insisted he was hiking on the Appalachian Trail, but he re-emerged to admit, tearfully, he had been in Argentina with girlfriend Maria Belen Chapur.

Still, Sanford finished out his term as governor.

Conservative South Carolina voters showed that, at least on some level, they had forgiven the contrite Sanford in 2012 when they elected him to Congress again. He served from 2013 to 2019 and was ofetn critical of Trump after he was elected to the White House.

That criticism hurt him in 2018. Trump endorsed his opponent, Katie Arrington, who beat Sanford in a primary challenge. Arrington went on to lose to now-Rep Joe Cunningham.

During his 12 years in Congress, Sanford served on a variety of committees, ranging from Transportation and Infrastructure to Budget, Oversight and Science.

An Eagle Scout, Sanford graduated from Furman University where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Business. He later received a Master of Business Administration from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. 

Sanford has also worked in real estate and has managed the family farm near Beaufort. He resides in Mount Pleasant.

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