If you were paying attention to politics in 2009, you’ve probably heard of Mark Sanford.
The former governor of South Carolina had disappeared for a period of time, and no one knew where he was. His spokesperson said he was “hiking the Appalachian Trail” but, turns out, he was actually in Argentina having an affair.
By all normal standards, the subsequent political fallout should have ended Sanford’s career for good. But in 2013, Sanford ran for Congress in a special election and a remarkable thing happened: he won.
Since returning to Congress (he’d previously served in the House in the late 90’s), Sanford has been the same fiscal hawk he always was, aligning himself with the conservative House Freedom Caucus. But he’s also emerged as a critic of President Donald Trump — so much so that the president dispatched his OMB Director, former South Carolina congressman Mick Mulvaney, to tell Sanford the president would run a primary challenger against him in 2018.
But despite his baggage, Sanford has never lost a race. And spending 11 hours with him in South Carolina gave us a hint as to why that might be the case: he literally stops and talks to every person he sees. BuzzFeed News talked to Sanford about his life in and out of Washington, the scandal that almost ended his career, and got a tour of his farm.
We also crashed his ATV.
Kate Nocera is the DC Bureau Chief for BuzzFeed’s Washington, DC bureau. Nocera is a recipient of the National Press Foundation's 2014 Dirksen Award for distinguished reporting on Congress.
Contact Kate Nocera at email@example.com.
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