The former South Carolina governor had been one of the stalwart small-government conservatives of the GOP congressional class of 1994. His star was still rising when his career—and marriage—was derailed after disappeared from office while “hiking the Appalachian trail” with his Argentine mistress. Now Sanford has won a primary runoff to face Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch (Stephen Colbert’s sister) in an election to fill the House seat vacated when Tim Scott became a senator.
Now would be a good time to check out Michael Brendan Dougherty’s classic 2009 profile of Sanford, “Plain Right,” and see what the measure of the man was before the scandal that eclipsed his White House aspirations. A taste:
the governor edges closer to pure libertarianism at times. He rolls his eyes at the Columbia sheriff’s department’s zeal in investigating Michael Phelps’s recreational pot use. And he criticizes Alan Greenspan’s management of the “opaque” Federal Reserve. “If you take human nature out of a Fed, it might work,” he explains. “But you can’t. You can have these wise men. But who wants to turn off the spigot at a party that’s rolling?”
He also deviates from the Republican line on foreign policy. In Congress, he opposed Clinton’s intervention in Kosovo. And he was one of only two Republicans to vote against the 1998 resolution to make regime change in Iraq the official policy of the United States. He says that it was a “protest vote” in which he tried to reassert the legislature’s war-declaring powers. When asked about the invasion of Iraq, he extends his critique beyond the constitutional niceties. “I don’t believe in preemptive war,” he says flatly. “For us to hold the moral high ground in the world, our default position must be defensive.”