Sanford Is Frontrunner in S.C. House Race, But Says Political Return ‘Humbling, Difficult’

South Carolina’s unpredictable political universe is now in full orbit with a special election next month that features 18 congressional candidates including a former governor and two first-timers with celebrity last names.

That former Republican Gov. Mark Sanford is an early favorite for the seat he held from 1995 to 2001, despite having had an extra-marital affair while in office, is no surprise.

The open seat is in the conservative 1st congressional district, in largely conservative South Carolina. Furthermore, only Sanford appears to have the kind of political name recognition to raise enough money over such a short period.

“We’ve got a tight time frame, and Sanford’s name ID allows him to be the frontrunner,” said Republican strategist Adam Temple, who has worked for South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint and on Arizona Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Sanford told this week he’s so far been humbled by the experience, with everybody from fellow state Republicans to everyday voters appearing ready to give him another shot at elected office.

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