Politics

Mark Sanford Crashing at Son’s ‘Frat House’ as He Plots His Future

Former South Carolina governor and two-time congressman packs up offices after 25 years in public eye

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., has been in public service for nearly all of the last 25 years. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Mark Sanford is one of roughly a third of House members taping up boxes this week and preparing for life after Congress.

His transition to private life has been equal parts odd and nostalgic, the South Carolina Republican told two local newspapers in exit interviews over the last few weeks.

From 1994 through 2003, and then again from 2013 through the present, Sanford slept on a futon in his congressional office whenever Congress was in session. He led the Palmetto State from the governor’s mansion from 2003 to 2011, during which time he gained national notoriety after revelations of an affair with an Argentinian woman.

Now, he’s staying in a house with his oldest son, Bolton, and six other recent University of Virginia or University of North Carolina graduates.

That’s the odd part of the transition.

“They’re good guys, but I feel like the one random dad in the frat house,” Sanford told The State in Columbia.

“I try to be as minimally obtrusive as possible. I leave early and come back late.” The only issue for him, Sanford added, is that the young men “don’t go to bed early.”

As for the nostalgia, Sanford has unearthed long-lost papers, notes, and letters from his 25 years of service to the Charleston area and to South Carolina as a whole.

Sanford has re-discovered thank-you notes from a third-grade class he once spoke to years ago, the Charleston Post and Courier reported. In recent weeks, he has read names and phone numbers and notes scratched onto notepads that he’d forgotten existed.

“I guess I can let it go now,” Sanford told the Post and Courier.

Sanford has not ruled out running to reclaim his seat in South Carolina’s 1st District.

Over the last two years, Sanford has been one of the only members of the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus to actively speak out against President Donald Trump’s brash brand of politics and public statements.

It is unclear what kind of appetite Republicans in the 1st District have for someone like Sanford, a longtime Republican public servant who never fully embraced the president.

One-term Republican state lawmaker Katie Arrington, who gained Trump’s endorsement early this past summer, defeated Sanford in the GOP primary, but lost to Democrat Joe Cunningham in the general election.

Recent polling suggests Sanford still has a path back to Congress if he so chooses. But he’s not committing one way or the other, he told The State.

“Never say never,” he said.

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