- Associated Press - Monday, February 18, 2013

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford does not shy away from the scandal that consumed the end of his second term in his first television ad for the 1st Congressional District race.

Mr. Sanford opens the 30-second advertisement talking about how he fought to cut government spending and reduce debt.

He then switches to the scandal. In 2009, in the middle of his second term, Mr. Sanford headed to Argentina to see his mistress without telling his family or anyone in the administration or elsewhere in state government. Reporters and others were told he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. The trip and its aftermath led to his divorce.

“More recently, I’ve experienced how none of us go through life without mistakes,” Mr. Sanford said in the ad. “But in their wake, we can learn a lot about grace, a God of second chances, and be the better for it. In that light, I humbly step forward and ask for your help in changing Washington.”

Mr. Sanford and the woman he went to see in Argentina and later called his “soul mate,” Maria Belen Chapur, became engaged last summer.

Mr. Sanford’s campaign said the ad began running on cable channels in the coastal 1st District on Monday and will run on broadcast channels in the district starting next week.

Mr. Sanford is one of 16 candidates vying for the Republican nomination for the seat left open when then-Rep. Tim Scott was appointed to the U.S. Senate.

So far, advertisements from the other candidates such as Teddy Turner, the son of media magnate Ted Turner; state Rep. Chip Limehouse; state Sen. Larry Grooms; Charleston County School Board member Elizabeth Moffly; and former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic largely have been biographical and haven’t made mention of Mr. Sanford, who served three terms in a differently-drawn 1st District before he was elected governor in 2002.

Only two candidates are running for the Democratic nomination. Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, the sister of comedian and Charleston native Stephen Colbert, is taking on perennial candidate Ben Frazier.

The party primaries are March 19, with runoffs scheduled for April 2. The special election is set for May 7.

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