Former SC governor Mark Sanford to challenge Trump in 2020 despite scandalous past that saw him admit to cheating on his wife

Sanford's family life was in ruins a decade ago following his extra-marital affair but politically, his journey was little hit.

                            Former SC governor Mark Sanford to challenge Trump in 2020 despite scandalous past that saw him admit to cheating on his wife

Former South Carolina representative Mark Sanford on Sunday, September 8, announced his decision to run for the presidential position in the elections next year. With this, the number of contenders in the Republican camp to challenge incumbent Donald Trump has risen to three. Former Illinois representative Joe Walsh and Massachusetts governor Bill Weld are the other two to have taken on the mercurial president. 

Sanford, 59, is known to be a political foe to Trump and had been hinting at contesting the presidential elections for some time. According to him, the GOP has lost its way and felt the time has come to have a conversation on what it means to be a Republican.

It will only be an uphill task for Sanford to challenge Trump who, despite his unpredictable ways, has massive support and is considered the favorite by many to win his second term in 2020. But Sanford believes even Trump was nobody ahead of the 2016 election but went on to become the 45th incumbent next year. For him, nothing is impossible thus.

Sanford had served as the Governor of South Carolina between 2003 and 2011. His tenure had been rocked by a personal scandal but he came back to be elected as a member of the Congress within two years of the conclusion of his stint as the governor. 

The scandal that broke a decade ago had made Sanford go through a rough phase. Today, it works as a confidence-booster for the man. “Show me the other guys out there in Republican Party circles who have come back from that kind of thing,” Associated Press quoted him as saying.

The scandal

In June 2009, Sanford had disappeared for six days while still serving as the governor and the news made headlines across the nation. It was told that the politician was hiking the Appalachian Trail. But Sanford later confessed in an emotional press conference that he had indeed been cheating on his wife. He said that he had been holidaying with an Argentinian woman while the world looked for him.

The man, who resigned as the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, repeatedly apologised to his family and also his staff members who he admitted to have misled. In tears, Sanford said he was in Buenos Aires and not hiking as was told by his aides.

He had said that the affair had begun as something “innocent” with casual emails and phone calls. He said the woman had apparently sought his advice on her own marital problems but then a relationship blossomed. Sanford also admitted that his family was aware of the affair for some months and he had spoken to his father-in-law before leaving for Argentina. He even struggled to answer it straight when asked whether he was separated from his wife after the incident.

In February 2010, a family court judge gave Jenny, Mark's wife, a divorce. Jenny, who has four children with Mark, testified in the court that her husband referred to his Argentine partner as his “soul mate” and sought time and again to be allowed to see her. 

Politically, too, many had thought Sanford’s journey would be over after the episode. But it didn’t. He was elected to the Congress in a special election in 2013 and then got re-elected not once but twice more. He only lost in a 2018 primary after Trump attacked him in a tweet, saying he is better off in Argentina and endorsed Katie Arrington in a House Republican Primary from South Carolina.



Sanford knows that no candidate who has challenged an incumbent president of his/her own party has made it successfully. He also knows that Trump will not spare his past during the race and that logistically too he is at a disadvantage. However, despite all that, Sanford seems to be in no mood to let go.

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