However, even in attempting to launch a new political career, Sanford keeps reliving his shortcomings, said Le Price, campaign manager for fellow GOP candidate John Kuhn, a former state senator.
Hes clearly on a forgiveness tour, Price said. But hes not asked for forgiveness for the ethic violations.
Values are an issue in the campaign.
This race is not about a personal tour of redemption, Mike Biundo, a consultant for GOP candidate Andy Patrick, a state representative from Beaufort, wrote last week. It is about the important issues facing our nation, and the people of the Lowcountry have the right to judge each of candidates on their personal character and policy prescriptions.
State Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley, and state Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, have the best chances of landing next to Sanford in a GOP runoff, political watchers predict.
All of the candidates would be conservative, said Limehouse, who is stressing constituent service as an issue. But its going to be who is going to answer my phone call and fix my problem.
And some warn a Sanford primary win could pose trouble for Republicans in a general election against expected Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of TV satirist Stephen Colbert. Limehouse said he should represent the GOP because I dont have distractions.
Grooms received endorsements last week from a pair of fiscally conservative Republican U.S. representatives from South Carolina, Mick Mulvaney and Jeff Duncan, who said they remain on good terms with the former governor.
This is not an anti-Sanford endorsement, Duncan said.
Mulvaney said the S.C. congressional delegation has developed close ties since he and three other freshmen were elected in 2010. We want to find someone who fits this team, and thats Larry, he said.
Asked whether Sanford could work well with the delegation, Mulvaney said: Its up to Mark.
Meanwhile, Scotts office said the now-U.S. senator has no plans to endorse a candidate, though congressional candidate Curtis Bostics Twitter avatar is a photo of him embracing his former fellow Charleston County councilman.
Some political scientists say Sanford could receive the most votes in the Republican primary but lose in a runoff the fate of former Lt. Gov. Andrew Bauer in the 7th District GOP primary last year.
It could happen, said Thigpen, who also suggested Sanford could win outright with such a divided field.
Sanford might be in the right place to have his past personal flaws forgiven and win office again, some say.
Thigpen and The Citadels Buchanan say the Lowcountry coast has a libertarian streak that is unlike the more socially conservative Upstate.
If you are asking people to forgive you, the 1st (District) is the best, Thigpen said.
Still, Sanford will face resistance from voters away from the coast and women, political scientists predict. Thigpen recalls speaking at a meeting where women were upset that Sanford had jetted off to see his lover in Argentina on Fathers Day.
The average male in Charleston will say, I almost got caught, too, Thigpen said.