WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former South Carolina Congressman Mark Sanford will challenge President Donald Trump in the Republican Party primary, he announced on Sunday in an interview with Fox News.
“I’m here to tell you now that I am going to get in,” Sanford said on Fox News Sunday, adding that he will formally launch his bid for the party’s 2020 White House nomination in South Carolina later this week.
He becomes the third Republican to enter the race to challenge Trump, who remains popular within the Republican Party.
Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld and former U.S. Representative from Illinois Joe Walsh have also launched long-shot campaigns, but neither candidate has gained traction.
Sanford, 59, a longtime Trump critic, lost his seat in the House of Representatives last year after he was challenged by a Trump supporter in the Republican primary.
He said he wants to run to give Republicans an alternative to Trump with “executive experience” and restore the party to its principles.
“I think that as a Republican Party, we have lost our way,” he said.
Sanford will not even be able to run in a primary in his own state. On Saturday, the South Carolina Republican Party executive committee voted not to hold a presidential primary in 2020 to save money and pave the way for Trump’s re-election.
Sanford served two terms as governor of South Carolina from 2003 to 2011.
His term was marked with scandal when he went missing after telling staff that he had left the state to hike the Appalachian Trail. Instead, he had traveled to Argentina to meet with his mistress, which he admitted in a news conference hours after returning.
He served two stints in Congress. First, before being elected governor, he served in the U.S. House from 1995 to 2001. After leaving the governor’s office, he was elected to a second stint from 2013 to 2019.
(Reporting by Ginger Gibson and Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)