(Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
Mark Sanford has won election to the United States Congress after defeating Elizabeth Colbert Busch for the South Carolina seat. In his acceptance speech, Sanford pledged to be a new man, and a representative of God's grace and mercy.
"I am one imperfect man saved by God's grace," Sanford said Tuesday night. "It's my pledge to all of you going forward [that] I'm going to be one of the best congressmen I could have ever been."
Sanford faced a tough election against Busch, given her name recognition and popularity. She is the sister of political satirist Stephen Colbert and was quite popular in the polls and during campaigning; many ruled a second chance for Sanford out of the question given the conditions under which he left.
In 2009, Sanford became the subject of a political and ethical scandal when it was revealed that he had cheated on his wife and lied to members of his staff. Instead of hiking the Appalachian Trail, Sanford instead went to Argentina to spend time with his mistress. He was forced to pay a $70,000 ethics fine for using state money to fly for personal purposes, and his wife Jenny filed for divorce.
Sanford had the odds stacked against him going into the final week of the election. Jenny called the police and reported that Sanford had violated the terms of their divorce by being in her house without her permission. The National Republican Congressional Committee pulled its support from Sanford's campaign immediately after the news broke.
"Some guy came up to me the other day and said you look a lot like Lazarus," Sanford said during his victory speech. "I've talked a lot about grace during the course of this campaign. Until you experience human grace as a reflection of God's grace, I don't think you really get it. And I didn't get it before."
Sanford will now report to the Senate to fill the seat left vacant by Senator Jim DeMint, who resigned last year.