Mark Sanford Asked Ex-Wife To Run His Campaign

Former South Carolina Mark Sanford bizarrely asked his ex-wife to run his campaign for Congress:

And you thought your relationship with your ex was complicated: New York magazine reports that while former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and his ex-wife Jenny have barely spoken since their bitter divorce three years, he recently asked her to run his congressional campaign. “I could pay you this time,” the magazine reports he told her.

Jenny Sanford ran all of her husband’s campaigns, starting with his first 1994 bid for Congress. The partnership, naturally, fell apart after his affair with an Argentine journalist went public in 2009. She passed up the chance to run for the open congressional seat herself.

Needless to say, she said no.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. grumpy realist says:

    Talking about people not getting it….

    What does she have to do, cut his balls off before he realizes what she feels about him?

  2. Tsar Nicholas says:

    What’s really scary is that Sanford likely if not probably was quite surprised by her response. And that brings up a larger, related point: Don’t underestimate the numbing effects of too much Protestant religion. Or any traditional religion, for that matter.

  3. legion says:

    The narcissism, it burns.

    He really doesn’t grasp the idea that it’s not simply the adultery that makes him unfit for office – it’s that he packed up and left the country, with no warning or instructions to anyone in the state he was Governor of, just to chase some tail. But he still thinks he should be trusted by anyone to do anything except fail.

  4. swbarnes2 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Talking about people not getting it….

    What does she have to do, cut his balls off before he realizes what she feels about him?

    He’s a Republican. So, he’ll literally have no idea what he put her through, until his wife does it to him. It’s how they all work. The only Republicans who favor gay rights have gay family. The only Republicans who want to cool down anti-Arab rhetoric are the ones married to Arabic women. The only Republicans concerned about racism are the ones who are racial minorities, but you will never get any of those guy to give a fig about any cause that doesn’t personally hurt them and theirs.


    But he still thinks he should be trusted by anyone to do anything except fail.

    Well, yes. He thinks he should be judged by what is in his heart, not by his actions. Conservatives are happy to oblige.

  5. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    On certain levels, it makes a lot of sense. She’s obviously damned good at it, and this could help her start a new career in managing campaigns — she’d be doing it as a professional this time. For him, she’s got a proven track record and it could help heal some of the ill will she obviously holds, and it could lead to a healthier relationship between them — which would be good for the kids. And he did it the right way — quietly. They could have sold it as they still agree about important principles, and that they are willing to set aside their past problems for the common good. She still thinks he’s a good pol, he recognizes that she has serious skills.

    And that would be a hell of a story.

    It would have been incredibly unlikely, but if she’d accepted and it worked, man… what a hell of a story.

  6. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @legion: People who have no problem with Bill Clinton porking an intern young enough to be his daughter in the Oval Office have zero standing to whine about Sanford’s conduct.

    On the other hand, as someone who did have problems with Clinton, I have the grounds to say that your statement is pretty much dead-on.

  7. CSK says:

    It was an interesting article, but I found it hilarious that the author describes Sanford as “introspective.” No. He’s self-absorbed. If he were introspective, he’d have realized that asking the wife he dumped publicly to run his campaign–“Gee, honey. I’ll even pay you this time!”–might have been a tad…oblivious?

  8. legion says:

    @CSK: Huh. That’s a whole sh*t-ton of assumptions packed into two little sentences…

  9. carpeicthus says:

    Good point Jenos, since I remember that part when Clinton left the country for an extended period without telling anyone. That was wild.

  10. K. H. M. says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:
    My former husband asked me to manage his medical office some years after we divorced, and I took it as a compliment.

  11. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @legion: As a South Carolinian, I can tell you from observation that CSK is on target. Sanford lacks the capacity for honest self-analysis.