Mark Sanford, one of three candidates running against President Donald Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination, announced on Tuesday he is dropping out of the race.
The former South Carolina congressman made his announcement during a press conference in New Hampshire, where he had focused his long-shot campaign. During his 65 day-long campaign, Sanford visited Iowa twice.
Sanford didn’t attribute his decision to his lack of name recognition (Sanford’s biggest moment in the national spotlight came when he was governor of South Carolina in 2009, and he secretly left the country to spend time in Argentina with his mistress) poor fundraising (according to FEC filings, Sanford had only raised $60,448 through Oct. 15) or the Republican Party’s hostility to Trump challengers (the Republican parties in three states, including Sanford’s homestate of South Carolina, have canceled their primaries and declared their loyalty to Trump).
Instead, he said the ongoing impeachment inquiry was proving too much of a distraction and preventing “a nuanced conversation on the fiscal deficit,” which Sanford said was central to his campaign.
“You gotta be a realist, and what I did not anticipate is an impeachment,” Sanford told reporters in Concord, New Hampshire on Tuesday.
But as The Post and Courier of Charleston, South Carolina noted on Tuesday, Sanford’s problems trying to find an audience in New Hampshire went well beyond any distraction the impeachment inquiry might be causing.
“In a recent social media post, Sanford lamented being refused the opportunity to speak at a GOP candidate spaghetti dinner in Londonderry for fear of offending Trump supporters,” the paper reported.
Sanford’s announcement comes just before the Friday filing deadline for participants in New Hampshire’s February 11 primary.
When Sanford launched his presidential bid, he transferred the $1.3 million leftover from his failed 2018 Congressional reelection campaign (he represented the Charleston area in Congress from 2013 to 2019) to his presidential campaign. That money, or what remains of it, can be transferred to any future campaign for federal office — House of Representative, Senate or presidential — Sanford chooses to launch.
Joe Walsh, a former one-term congressman turned right-wing radio talk show host, and William Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts, are still running against Trump in the 2020 Republican race. Neither is likely to succeed, as both have acknowledged.
Walsh had to begin his campaign in August by apologizing for his long history of making racist statements. Weld had to rejoin the Republican Party in January, before he could launch his campaign in February. Weld quit the GOP in 2016 to run as vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket.