(WASHINGTON) -- Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina governor whose career imploded when it turned out that what he said was an Appalachian Trail hiking trip was actually a visit to his mistress in Argentina, began his return to politics with phone calls to local Republicans.
"Mark called me a couple times," said Beaufort County GOP Chairman Jerry Hallman, recounting the steps Sanford took before deciding to become a political candidate again. "He really worked hard at that. He called a heck of a lot of people."
Nearly four years after the bizarre press conference at which he revealed he was having an affair with an Argentine woman -- and that he had not, as staff had been told, left to hike the Appalachian Trail -- Sanford is running for the Charleston-area First District House seat he won in 1994 and held until 2001.
The former governor will compete against 15 other Republican candidates in Tuesday's primary, staged to fill a seat vacated when Gov. Nikki Haley appointed then-Rep. Tim Scott to replace retiring GOP Sen. Jim DeMint in the upper chamber.
South Carolina insiders expect Sanford to win, but with no public polling available, their opinions are informed by internal polls conducted by campaigns, which show Sanford winning with support just under 30 percent -- although ABC News has not seen the polls and does not consider candidates' commissioned surveys to be reliable.
Sanford entered the race asking for forgiveness
"I have 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," Sanford said in his first TV ad in the district.
Headlining the crowded GOP field competing against Sanford are Teddy Turner, the son of media mogul Ted Turner; former Charleston County Council member Curtis Bostic; state Sen. Larry Grooms; state Rep. Chip Limehouse; and former state Sen. John Kuhn.
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