There are wedding bells in someone’s future!
Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, whose political career ended when he admitted an extramarital affair, is engaged to his ex-mistress from Argentina.
Sanford, a one-time rising Republican star mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, said in a statement to CNN that he and Maria Belen Chapur are “both happy and excited” about their engagement.
Sanford is the conservative movement’s Greek tragedy. He was charismatic and thoughtful. He was a responsible belt-tightener. He thought South Carolina’s Republican legislature was soft on spending. He even brought live pigs to the State House to protest their pork-barrel ways.
And he irritated all the right people. As Newsweek put it, “By now, Mark Sanford is accustomed to life outside the mainstream. Since arriving in Congress in 1995, he has opposed new spending so mulishly that many critics, including some big-government Bushies, consider him an incorrigible ideologue.” In the age of Bush wars and budget-busting, Sanford was a cool drink. He kept alive Barry Goldwater’s ideas and spirit (if not his temperament).
And then he went for a little hike on the Appalachian Trail.
The presidential race could have been very different if Sanford hadn’t committed adultery. With the rise of the Tea Party, Sanford’s small-government bullishness came back in style. Conservatives would have likely flocked to him.
Then again the presidential race also could have been very different if Sanford committed adultery but didn’t admit it. The Democrats have an army of oppo researchers just to dig through Ann Romney’s wardrobe. It’s hard to think they wouldn’t have discovered Sanford’s dirty little secret.
That would have been some October surprise.