Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford formally announced his campaign for the U.S. House on Wednesday morning, casting himself as a fiscal conservative intent on reducing government spending.
"I am running because our country's future is at stake if we don't get our hands around runaway government spending in Washington," Sanford said 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."
CNN first reported Sanford's planned political comeback in December. He confirmed his intentions in an interview with the conservative National Review on Tuesday afternoon.
Sanford addressed concerns about the extramarital affair that many thought ended his political career in 2009. That summer, Sanford left the state without telling his staff to visit his girlfriend in Argentina, and admitted the affair in an emotional press conference carried live on national television.
"I think that the bigger issue is, don't judge any one person by their best day, don't judge them by their worst day," Sanford said Tuesday. "Look at the totality, the whole of their life, and make judgments accordingly."
Sanford's ex-wife Jenny told reporters Monday that Mark's ability to handle questions about the affair "will make or break his campaign."
Sanford said he will focus his House campaign on issues of debt and spending.
Sanford intends to seek the Republican nomination in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District, a seat being vacated by Rep. Tim Scott, who was appointed to the United States Senate late last year by Gov. Nikki Haley.
The open House seat has already drawn a bumper crop of possible Republican candidates, including state Sen. Larry Grooms and Teddy Turner, the son of CNN founder Ted Turner.
The deadline to file for the seat is Friday.
Whoever wins the GOP primary on March 19 is all-but-certain to take the seat, since the district is drawn to favor Republicans. The general election will take place on May 7.
Sanford, who resides in the Charleston area, represented the coastal district from 1995 to 2001.
In 2002, he was elected governor, serving two terms and plotting an eventual presidential campaign before the affair derailed his national ambitions.