Mark Sanford (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GettyImages)
Catalina Camia, USA TODAY
Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford has been endorsed for Congress by a leading conservative, who says the Republican should be forgiven for having an extramarital affair.
"We have values and when those values are betrayed by those who fight with us, we must often show them tough love and show them the door," writes Erick Erickson on the influential Red State blog. "But we do a terrible job with forgiveness and rehabilitation."
Sanford is in a crowded field of Republicans vying for his old U.S. House seat in a special election. Tim Scott, the previous representative, was appointed to the Senate.
Sanford's fall from grace is well known. He was in Argentina visiting his mistress, but told aides in 2009 he was hiking along the Appalachian Trail.
As Erickson writes, Sanford "left the public stage ... and disappeared from the conversation" after admitting to the affair in 2009. Erickson's reason for endorsing Sanford comes down to who is the best fiscal conservative, and the pundit argues "there's no better alternative."
There are more than a dozen declared GOP candidates in the race, including state legislators such as Andy Patrick and Larry Grooms. Voters will get their first crack at the race in March 19 primaries. Elizabeth Colbert Busch is the leading Democratic candidate.