Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina. (Rainier Ehrhardt / Associated…)
WASHINGTON -- Mark Sanford, after a detour to the governor's office and, infamously, to Argentina, is back in Washington as a member of Congress.
The former three-term congressman and two-term governor was sworn in Wednesday as the representative for South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, after a comeback victory in a special election last week.
In brief remarks after taking the oath of office, Sanford declared himself "humbled" to return.
"Each one of our lives involve different journeys. But on that journey we can in essence be taken to places wherein we develop levels of appreciation perhaps that we never had before. And so I stand here before each one of you more appreciative than I ever could have been for the honor of working with each one of you here in the United States Congress," he said.
Sanford was introduced by fellow South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson, who called him the "survivor" of primary, runoff and general elections this year to replace Tim Scott, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate.
In the general election, Sanford defeated Elizabeth Colbert Busch, sister of Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert, by 9 percentage points. The victory came in a heavily Republican district, but was nonetheless notable because Sanford was outspent by his rival and outside groups and won despite the fallout of an extramarital affair that nearly derailed his governorship.
The affair came to light after Sanford's unexplained absence from the state. Aides at the time said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail alone, when in fact he was in Argentina with a woman he would later describe as his "soul mate." (They are now engaged, and she accompanied him to Washington.) Sanford was censured by the state Legislature and paid fines for ethics violations.
In his campaign, Sanford said voters "taught me a whole lot about love and humility, about wisdom and about grace."
"I stand before you I guess with a whole new appreciation indeed for a God of second chances. And how in the events of our life, up or down they might be, how every one of us can be refined as human beings."
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee greeted Sanford’s return by calling him “the newest face of a Republican Congress already struggling with women voters.”
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