Former South Carolina governor and congressman Mark Sanford announced his candidacy for the state's First Congressional District Wednesday. Sanford, who served as that district's House member from 1995 to 2001 and later as governor of South Carolina from 2003 to 2011, is vying for the Republican nomination to replace former congressman Tim Scott, who was appointed last month to the U.S. Senate.

"I am running because our country’s future is at stake if we don’t get our hands around runaway government spending in Washington," said Sanford in a statement. "And given our nation’s long-term financial problems, we need more who have shown themselves to be leaders in standing up to the big spenders, regardless of party."

Sanford joins a crowded GOP field who will face off in a March 19 primary, with the race likely headed to an April 2 runoff. The general special election is May 7.

After leaving the governor's mansion in 2011, Sanford's political career was considered over. The Republican had admitted in 2009 to having engaged in an extramarital affair with an Argentine woman, and the ensuing ethics investigations consumed the final two years of his second term. But the First is familiar territory for Sanford, who lives in the population hub of Charleston but has roots in Beaufort County, south of Charleston along the Atlantic coast.

Sanford has the benefit of excellent name ID in a GOP field otherwise filled with state legislators and businessmen. His public image was marred by his affair--and his bizarre handling of the story--but insiders say Sanford remains the favorite.

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