The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
Mark Sanford attends the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images. Mark Sanford attends the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on August 28, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.  

Mark Sanford’s road to redemption

Photo of W. James Antle III
W. James Antle III
Editor, The Daily Caller News Foundation

This year, South Carolina will have a governor, two senators, and seven U.S. House members running for re-election. Most of them will face primary or general election opponents.

Mark Sanford won’t.

The USA Today headline said it best: “Once disgraced, Mark Sanford is now unopposed.” Less than a year ago, the headlines about Sanford looked very different: “GOP now bearish on Sanford’s chances in S.C.”

Eighteen days later, Sanford won a special election to return to Congress, winning 54 percent of the vote. The Democrats had spent some $2.6 million to elect Stephen Colbert’s sister instead. Come November, they won’t even have a candidate on the ballot.

“Lazarus raised,” writes Slate‘s Dave Weigel.

Until recently, the most common biblical allusion made to Sanford was his violation of the commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” As governor of South Carolina, Sanford disappeared from the state for an alleged hike along the Appalachian trail that turned out to be a clandestine trip down lover’s lane.

Sanford’s marriage and governorship were ruined. So, it was thought, were his reputation and political career.

Then the South Carolina Republican made a novel argument: “I absolutely failed in my personal life and my marriage but one place I never did fail was with the taxpayers.”

Nonsense, replied his critics. Those trips to see his mistress (now fiancee), including at least his fateful sojourn to Argentina, were on the taxpayers’ dime. But the voters of South Carolina’s first congressional district decided that he fought to spare them far greater expenses, like the $831 billion federal stimulus package and state budgets — often backed by fellow Republicans — that grew faster than inflation plus population growth.

As governor, Sanford issued over 100 budget vetoes in 2004 alone.

We know how Sanford’s first marriage vows turned out. But did he hold his side of the bargain with his constituents?

Sanford voted against the farm bill, not once, but twice. Both times, most Republicans voted yes. The second legislative package cost nearly $1 trillion.

He was also one of just 94 congressmen to vote against the bipartisan Ryan-Murray budget, which traded away some of the hard-won sequestration budget cuts.

The South Carolinian has voted not once but twice against the federal government taking on more debt without negotiated spending cuts.

When President Barack Obama wanted to launch an expensive war in Syria on dubious national security grounds, Sanford was against it.

Sanford is one of just 17 House members with a better than 90 percent rating from FreedomWorks in the last Congress. He has a 95 percent score from Club for Growth.