South Carolina Republican Mark Sanford Mulls Primary Challenge to Trump

Representative Mark Sanford (R, S.C.) on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., December 2, 2014. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina congressman who lost his seat to a Trump-backed primary challenger last year, is strongly considering a primary challenge of his own against the president.

Sanford told the Post and Courier that he will take the next month to decide whether a long-shot run for the Republican presidential nomination is at all viable in the current Trump-dominated GOP.

“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 said. “I feel convicted.”

The former South Carolina lawmaker said he is concerned by his party’s shift away from fiscal responsibility and believes he is well-suited to lead a realignment.

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“I’m a Republican. I think the Republican party has lost its way on debt, spending, and financial matters,” he said.

In order to launch a primary challenge, Sanford would need help from state Republican parties, who have the power to decide whether to hold presidential primaries or caucuses should a viable Republican challenger to President Trump emerge. The Republican party in Sanford’s native South Carolina will consider the issue at an upcoming meeting of its Executive Committee and inform the Republican National Committee of its decision by October 1.

If a presidential run doesn’t prove feasible, Sanford indicated that he may launch a think tank devoted to addressing the deficit.

Trump sparred often with Sanford throughout his first two years in office and ultimately endorsed primary challenger Katie Arrington, ensuring Sanford’s loss last year. Trump continued his attacks even after Sanford’s defeat, mocking the former lawmaker while campaigning for South Carolina governor Henry McMaster.

“The Tallahassee Trail – must be a beautiful place. Unfortunately, he didn’t go there,” Trump said, presumably intending to refer to the Appalachian Trail, which Sanford infamously said he was hiking to conceal a South American vacation he took with his mistress in 2009.

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