|Mark Sanford plans to head toward home in his son’s truck.|
BEAUFORT, S.C. — Things are looking up for Governor Mark Sanford as he prepares to leave office on his own terms more than a year after the international affair that derailed his once-promising political career.
He will be replaced by his chosen successor. Tea Party movement supporters across the country have taken up his messages about fiscal responsibility. Friends say his mid-life crisis is over.
Still, the two-term governor says he is not sure what’s next and talks vaguely about writing a book or going back into business.
“It’s an interesting spot to be at, because my nature is always to have a next plan, but on this one I don’t,’’ said Sanford, a 50-year-old former developer. All he’ll say for now is that he plans to take his son’s green pickup truck and head toward home on the state’s southern coast, though he’s not sure exactly where he’ll live.
“I’m driving east on 26 and beyond that, it’s a new adventure and we’ll figure out the next chapter of life,’’ he said.
The previous chapters include one of the decade’s most-watched political implosions.
He disappeared from the state for five days in June 2009 and told his staff he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, but he was really in Argentina visiting his mistress. He returned and held a press conference at which he confessed “I have been unfaithful to my wife.’’
In lengthy interviews, Sanford declared his lover his soul mate. Weeks later, wife Jenny Sanford moved out of the governor’s mansion in Columbia with their four sons and into the family’s beachfront home near Charleston. The governor did not contest the divorce that followed. She wrote a tell-all memoir, “Staying True,’’ and launched a national book tour.
Mark Sanford resisted calls to resign, fought an impeachment push and endured a formal rebuke from lawmakers who said he embarrassed the state. He paid a $74,000 ethics fine after media investigations found improprieties in his flights on state and private aircraft and his campaign spending.