Mark Sanford Drops Challenge For Republican Nomination

After just two months, Mark Sanford is dropping his challenge to the incumbent President.

Former South Carolina Governor and Senator Mark Senator has dropped out of the race for the Republican Presidential nomination:

CONCORD, N.H. — Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford dropped out of the race for president just moments ago, ending his protest bid 60 days after it began.

In a noon press conference at the New Hampshire Statehouse, Sanford announced his long-shot run is ending after previously declaring he would spend most of November campaigning in the Granite State, site of the nation’s first primary.

The move came after Sanford failed to collect much of a following, especially as President Donald Trump remains the favorite of most Republican voters nationally and while Washington is gearing up for impeachment hearings.

Sanford said the impeachment inquiry surrounding the president had sucked the proverbial oxygen out of the 2020 debate.

“You gotta be a realist, and what I did not anticipate is an impeachment,” he said, adding he is suspending the campaign and will look for other ways to advance his stance against the deficit.

Even before his formal departure Tuesday, Sanford’s campaign had gotten off to a slow start, with most media paying little more than a glancing interest. He was one of three Republicans to announce intra-party challenges versus Trump, including former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts governor William Weld.

There were noticeable hurdles to being accepted in New Hampshire. In a recent social media post, Sanford lamented being refused the opportunity to speak at a GOP candidate spaghetti dinner in Londonderry for fear of offending Trump supporters.

“The party is populated by some really great people, but it’s underserved or misled by too many in leadership positions — and I think President Trump and his approach has exacerbated this,” Sanford wrote.

“Are you kidding me? In a state where the motto is ‘Live Free or Die?’ Being scared of someone being offended because someone else had a different viewpoint at a small local county event? It mirrors the cancelling of primaries, and it makes me ask what has come of the Republican Party?” he concluded.

Sanford’s decision to drop out of the race comes just two months after he entered a race that, in addition to the President, also included former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld and former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh. Unlike those candidates, though, Sanford had essentially no campaign staff and was not actively seeking campaign donations. Instead, he was essentially acting as his own campaign manager and financing his campaign through the campaign war chest still leftover from previous political campaigns. Due to that, his campaign always seemed more disjointed and disorganized than that of his rivals and likely played a role in his decision to end the campaign before even formally putting his name on the ballot in New Hampshire.

As I’ve said in the past, of course, these intra-party challenges to the President were mostly symbolic and that there was little to no chance that either Sandford, Walsh, or Weld would be able to do much to injure the President politically. Nonetheless, it became apparent that the candidates were mostly focusing their efforts on New Hampshire and the hope that one or more of them would perform well enough in the state to potentially embarrass the President and create problems for him in much the same way that Pat Buchanan did in for George H.W Bush. Sanford’s campaign suffered a setback to some extent when the South Carolina Republican Party decided to follow in the footsteps of state parties in other parts of the country and cancel its Presidential primary, thus removing any opportunity for Sanford to challenge the President in his home state.

Sanford was never going to win, of course, and neither are Weld or Walsh. Nonetheless, it was heartening to see at least some Republicans willing to stand up against this President even as the vast majority of the party continues its abject surrender.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds 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. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook


  1. gVOR08 says:

    If a candidacy is completely lost in the woods, does it make a sound when it folds?

  2. CSK says:

    @gVOR08: Not so you could detect it.

  3. Kathy says:

    Is he still looking for striped paint or a bucket of steam? 😉

    I shouldn’t engage in snark here. I wanted a strong challenge to El Cheeto from within his party. My mistake, and Sanford’s apparently, was the belief that it’s still the Republican party of only four years ago.

  4. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    This is puzzling to me…he had to know he was never going to be successful, and that this would be little more than a protest candidacy…so why give up so soon? Pretty half-hearted protest.

  5. MarkedMan says:


    the belief that it’s still the Republican party of only four years ago

    It is trite but true: the Republican Party is Trump. Or perhaps a better way to put it is that even among self declared Republicans there is much more loyalty to Trump than to the party. They are no longer Republican voters but simply Trump voters.

  6. Moosebreath says:


    “If a candidacy is completely lost in the woods, does it make a sound when it folds?”

    It depends upon whether the candidate was lost while hiking the Appalachian Trail.

  7. de stijl says:

    At least he tried. He walked the walk.

    If every first reference to your campaign is your AppalchianTrail absolute lie, you are utterly fucked.

    At least he had the heart to run and push back at Trump.He stood up on his tiny little adorable hind legs like a human being. So cute!

    Good job, Steve or Aaron, or Deron whatever your first name is. Mark. Mark my words.

    Have a good star and a participation medal! You’ve earned it!

    Your political party has embraced a dingus like Trump (autocorrect suggested fungus, both work). Good luck with that! Ta!

  8. gVOR08 says:

    @de stijl:

    autocorrect suggested fungus, both work

    I expect it’s also responsible for “good”.

  9. de stijl says:


    Good star for you!

    I reserve gold stars for truly accomplished commenters.

    The rules are fluid.

    I also crammed “AppalachianTrail” into each other. I suck.