Political News

Former GOP Rep. Mark Sanford eyeing challenge to Trump in 2020

Posted July 16, 2019 1:43 p.m. EDT

— Former South Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Sanford, who lost his primary race last year after voicing criticism of President Donald Trump, says he is considering mounting a challenge to the President in 2020.

Sanford told The Post and Courier newspaper he will explore a possible candidacy over the next month.

"Sometimes in life you've got to say what you've got to say, whether there's an audience or not for that message," Sanford told The Post and Courier. "I feel convicted."

"I'm a Republican. I think the Republican Party has lost its way on debt, spending and financial matters," he told the paper.

Sanford, whose presidential bid would be a long shot, said he has been privately considering whether to run since leaving office in January. He said he was waiting to see if any other high-profile Republicans like Ohio Gov. John Kasich would primary the President, according to the newspaper. Kasich said he has no intention of running for office again.

If he decides to run, Sanford would join former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who announced in April he was officially entering the race to challenge Trump in 2020.

The chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, Drew McKissick, said in a statement, "The last time Mark Sanford had an idea this dumb, it killed his Governorship. This makes about as much sense as that trip up the Appalachian trail."

In 2009, Sanford, who was governor of the state at the time, infamously disappeared for a few days and told the public he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. He later admitted he was actually in Argentina carrying on an extramarital affair.

Sanford lost the South Carolina Republican primary to state Rep. Katie Arrington last year. The President endorsed Arrington hours before the polls closed in a tweet attacking Sanford for being "very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA." Arrington later lost the election to Democrat Joe Cunningham.

Sanford has been a frequent critic of the President. In 2017, after the shooting at congressional Republicans' baseball practice, Sanford said on MSNBC that Trump is "partially to blame for demons that have been unleashed" in American politics.

Sanford told Politico Magazine the same year that Trump had "fanned the flames of intolerance," and said it was "befuddling" that "facts don't matter" with Trump.