Yes, former South Carolina Governor was kind of a laughing stock after it was revealed that he had disappeared to Argentina for a few days to spend time with his “soul mate.”
And yes, his press conference to explain himself was one of the most painful political moments in history– actually more painful than the infamous Rep. Enid Greene Waldholtz 5-hour press conference of 1995. (Long before the days of YouTube, unfortunately, I couldn’t find video of it.)
But, defying conventional wisdom and the odds, Sanford has been elected to represent the 1st district of South Carolina in a special election.
Sanford was one of the revolutionaries of 1994. I was lucky enough to have a front row seat to the early days of the Republican Revolution and to watch the likes of John Shadegg, Sam Brownback, Steve Largent, Mark Neumann, Matt Salmon, and Mark Sanford work to implement the mandate that they felt they carried to reform Washington.
They fought Newt when he tried to compromise with Clinton. They held the line on spending, leading to the one time in 40 years that federal spending actually went down in real dollars (although it was for only one year). They were the true believers.
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Sometime after Mark Sanford was elected Governor of South Carolina, he graciously accepted an invitation to speak at a conservative conference in Reno, NV. The conference organizers were awe-struck when he insisted that he travel alone, in coach, and refused a car service. He flew into Reno by himself (no entourage, no security detail), grabbed a cab, and checked himself into the hotel. It was quintessentially Mark Sanford – low key, regular guy.
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Congress needs more Mark Sanfords. Yes, he is flawed. But few great leaders are not flawed in some way. They are human.
What I know is that the country will be better off with Mark Sanford back in Congress.