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Mark Sanford plays to audience beyond establishment Republicans

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He’s confident. He’s got plans. He’s got “friends.”

Despite losing support from many Republicans during the final stages of his successful campaign for U.S. congressman in South Carolina, Mark Sanford is brimming with positive predictions.

I’ll have plenty of friends in Washington, D.C.,” he told NBC News. “I look forward to working, whether its Republicans, Democrats, Independents - you name it, with a whole host of different folks in terms of trying to accomplish things that better people’s lives here in the first congressional district, and frankly turn the tide with regard to spending up in Washington.”

Grassroots folks agree, apparently.

“Mark Sanford’s victory is further evidence that the political power balance in Washington has shifted. A strong fiscally conservative candidate, backed by a tenacious community of issue-driven grassroots activists, can prevail without the traditional power brokers of the Beltway,” observes Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, a Washington-based, fiscally conservative grassroots group.

Mr. Sanford, 52, defeated Democrat rival Elizabeth Colbert Busch on Tuesday night by a healthy nine percentage point margin, despite the political and personal baggage of a very public extramarital affair, a divorce from his longtime wife Jenny and an impending court date. The former governor is charged with trespassing on his former wife’s property.

“I’ve been on a remarkable personal journey since then and I hope that my life will reflect that going forward. At the end of the day, people care about how politics impact their lives. I don’t know that I’d read that much into the tea leaves with regard to my personal life,” Mr. Sanford added.

His former mistress Maria Belen Chapur is now his fiancee. Activists, meanwhile, are ready to rumble.

“This is both a victory for Mark Sanford and tea party grassroots activists in South Carolina’s first Congressional District. We are now looking to carry this momentum into the 2014 election cycle,” says Amy Kremer, chairman of the Tea Party Express, a political action committee.

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