Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina governor and congressman running for his old House seat, released his first television spot on Monday.
In it, the Republican best known nationally for disappearing from the state for days in 2009 and then admitting to an extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina, talks about fiscal responsibility and refers to his "mistakes."
"Washington's math doesn't add up. And so, for years, while many have talked, I've fought to do something about it," he says, wearing a crisp blue button-down shirt, speaking directly to camera from what appears to be a living room. "I’ve cut spending, reduced debt and made government more accountable."
"More recently," Sanford says, the timbre of his voice changing to regret, "I’ve experienced how none of us go through life without mistakes."
"But in their wake we can learn a lot about grace, a God of second chances and be the better for it. In that light I humbly step forward and ask for your help in changing Washington," he says, backed by light music.
Sanford is the front-runner in the 16-person GOP primary for the 1st District seat formerly held by now-Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican. He began the race with a considerable advantage in name identification — as a two-term governor, many people know who he is. But he also is weighted with considerable liabilities, which are glancingly referred to in his spot.
No candidate is expected to get more than 50 percent of the vote in the March 19 primary, so Sanford is likely to comfortably make it to the April 2 runoff, where he'll face off with another Republican.
Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert, is the favorite to win the Democratic nomination in the special election.
The Sanford ad, which began airing Monday, is running on districtwide cable for the week. It's part of the at least $164,000 the campaign has reserved on television in the month between Presidents Day and the primary. An expansion into broadcast television is expected next week, a Sanford spokesman said.
CQ Roll Call rates the special election as Likely Republican.