CHARLESTON — Former S.C. first lady Jenny Sanford said Monday she will not seek her ex-husband's old congressional seat, saying her job as a mother is more important than going to Washington.
“I have no interest in running for Congress,” she said. “I think my job as mom right now is much more important, much more rewarding and much more productive.”
Had she run, it likely would have set up a primary race between Sanford and her ex-husband and former Republican Gov. Mark Sanford. Mark Sanford has been looking at office space and is expected to announce soon that he will again seek the 1st District seat along South Carolina's south coast.
Mark Sanford held the 1st District seat for three terms before he left Washington and later successfully ran for governor in 2002. He did not return messages from The Associated Press on Monday.
Jenny Sanford had said earlier she would look at running for the seat, which was left vacant when Gov. Nikki Haley appointed former congressman Tim Scott to the U.S. Senate seat left empty when Jim DeMint resigned.
But she said Monday her place is at her home on nearby Sullivans Island. The Sanfords' youngest son is an eighth-grader who lives with his mother.
“The idea of killing myself to run for a seat for the privilege of serving in a dysfunctional body under John Boehner when I have an eighth-grader at home just really doesn't make sense to me,” she said.
As for her husband, she said “he did a good job as congressman and he has as much right as anybody else to run for Congress, and we'll see what happens.”
But Jenny Sanford said it's too early to say who she might support. Filing for the special election for the seat doesn't open until Friday.
“I don't even know who all the candidates are. That's not fair,” she laughed. “Let me see who the candidates are.”
But she added “my ex-husband's going to have a number of questions to answer, and how he deals with them will make or break his campaign.”
The former two-term Republican governor infamously disappeared from the state in 2009, telling aides he was hiking the Appalachian Trial, only to return from Argentina to confess an affair with an Argentine woman whom he has since asked to marry him.
He was a rising GOP star considered to be a possible contender for the White House in 2012 before the affair blew up his career and marriage. He avoided impeachment but was censured by the Legislature.
Mark Sanford, limited to two terms by law, left office after paying more than $70,000 in ethics fines, the largest such fines in state history. AP investigations had raised questions about his use of state, private and commercial aircraft.