CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — In a story of political redemption, Mark Sanford is headed back to Congress after his career was derailed by scandal four years ago.
"I am one imperfect man saved by God's grace," the Republican told about 100 cheering supporters Tuesday after defeating Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch to win back the 1st District seat he held for three terms in the 1990s. "It's my pledge to all of you going forward I'm going to be one of the best congressmen I could have ever been."
On Wednesday, Sanford told NBC's "Today" show he thinks his record as a watchdog for taxpayers was more important than his personal redemption story.
"I think I have an incredibly strong track record with regard to watching out for people's pocketbook," he said.
Although the race was thought to be close going into the voting, Sanford collected 54 percent of the vote against Colbert Busch, the sister of political satirist Stephen Colbert, in a district that hasn't elected a Democratic congressman in more than three decades. About 32 percent of the district's voters went to the polls. Green Party candidate Eugene Platt finished far behind.
"Some guy came up to me the other day and said you look a lot like Lazarus," Sanford told the crowd Tuesday night, referring to the man who, according to the Bible, Christ raised from the dead. "I've talked a lot about grace during the course of this campaign," he said. "Until you experience human grace as a reflection of God's grace, I don't think you really get it. And I didn't get it before."
While he credited his conservative credentials on Wednesday, he did not back away from his problems.
"I let a lot of folks down back in 2009 and yet I've been on a remarkable personal journey since then and I hope my life will reflect that going forward," Sanford said.