Mark Sanford has twice represented the First District of South Carolina in the U.S. Congress, served as the 115th Governor of South Carolina, worked in real estate, operated his family farm and above all has had the blessing and honor of raising four great sons.
He first learned the themes of hard work, the value of a dollar, and more on that very family farm. He brought these lessons to Washington, DC as a U.S. Representative and then to Columbia, SC as Governor and, where his record as a fiscal reformer and budget hawk was incontestable.
During his 12 years in Congress, Mark was ranked number one by several taxpayer organizations for his efforts to limit federal taxes and spending and watch out for the American taxpayer. He served on a variety of committees, ranging from Transportation & Infrastructure to Budget, Oversight and Science.
During his two terms as Governor of South Carolina, he accomplished a long list of firsts designed to better people’s lives, their prospects for a job and make the state a more inviting place from which to build a business. Examples include the first cut to the marginal income tax rate in state history, the largest recurring tax cut in state history, the first-of-its kind tort reform, the first in workers’ comp reform, and the first-in-the-nation statewide charter school reform.
These changes had many benefits, but an example in business terms would be the $24 billion in capital investment from around the world that came to South Carolina over his eight years.
A host of other accomplishments marked his tenure – from cutting wait times at the Department of Motor Vehicles from 66 minutes to 15 minutes, to proposing the first operational executive branch budget in South Carolina history, to closing a funding hole of nearly a billion dollars which he inherited upon arriving in Columbia. For conserving more public lands than any other governor in state history, Mark received the endorsement of the Sierra Club. Unexpected for a Republican, Mark worked closely with the ACLU on privacy matters and REAL ID, had the first African American Chief of Staff in state history and appointed more minorities to his cabinet than any other Governor in South Carolina.
Mark was the first Governor in the nation to refuse stimulus funding and fought against the stimulus all the way to the South Carolina Supreme Court. By the end of his second term, the CATO Institute ranked Mark the most fiscally-conservative Governor in America.
For all these accomplishments, Mark also had a major failure in his sixth year as Governor. In 2009 he had a well chronicled affair, and the collapse of his 20 year marriage. He finished the Governorship, but in its wake he had “a time in the desert” and the chance for much in the way of reflection, repentance and renewal. Several years later, the people who knew him best, once again, elected him to represent them in the U.S. Congress. While making no excuses for his failure, he believes this chapter of life has given him levels of humility, empathy and purpose that make him a better person and leader.
Mark graduated from Furman University where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Business. He later received a Master of Business Administration from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. His four sons, Marshall, Landon, Bolton and Blake – represent the four stars of his campaign logo, just as each of our children or grandchildren should inspire us to do something about Washington’s unsustainable course. He currently lives in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.