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Jenny Sanford, the political wife who did not stand by her husband, endorses candidate in GOP race to succeed him

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford confesses to affair in June.

She is the political wife who bucked tradition. When scandal struck her husband, the governor of South Carolina, she did not stand by his side. Instead, Jenny Sanford packed up her things and their four children and moved out of the governor's mansion for the family's home on Sullivan's Island.

Today she issued a letter supporting another "principled, conservative, tough and smart" woman in the crowded Republican primary to succeed Mark Sanford. (You may recall the governor, who once had presidential aspirations, went AWOL last summer, telling his staff he was hiking along the Appalachian Trail while he was actually in Argentina romping with his mistress.)

Jenny Sanford's pick for the state's next governor -- Nikki Haley -- was once a strong ally of Gov. Sanford, but in the wake of the scandal over his disappearance and his affair, she distanced herself, removing his photo from her campaign website.

This is one endorsement that could actually carry some weight. Jenny Sanford, a former Wall Street executive, was instrumental in managing her husband's campaigns, and has a network of supporters around the state. "It sends a signal that you might not be wasting your vote," said Danielle Vinson, a political scientist at Furman University.

In a letter, first reported by South Carolina's State newspaper, Jenny Sanford also talked about how her family is coping in the aftermath of the national scandal. 

"We all know this past year has been difficult for our state on many level," Sanford wrote. "It's been hard for me and my family too. But our family is resilient, and we will be fine. And the people of our state are resilient too. I have no doubt South Carolina will get back on its feet."

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo credit: Davis Turner / Getty Images

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I'm a nobody in terms of money or power or political influence but Nikki Haley, who has been my state representative, has always personally responded to my emails and my concerns on local and state matters in a manner that I know she has read and considered the issues brought up.

I am a veteran and I have never in the military nor in civilian life met a person who was more proficient, intelligent, and energetic than Nikki Haley. I've also never met anyone with the guts to fight the system's institutionalized corruption. She is a fiscal conservative who also has the courage to reform the government.

When Nikki Haley got into the statehouse after beating a thirty-year incumbent, she saw what was going on and reacted with outrage like I imagine I and most regular, hardworking folks in this state would have.

Nikki Haley stood up to the powers-that-be in her own party and forced the house and senate leadership to change the rules to make on-the-record voting easier.

Prior to this, 99% of all senate votes and 92% of all house votes were by voice that made tracking your representative's or senator's votes impossible. She was punished by her party's leadership but she won't quit until we have a law to insure that ALL statehouse votes are on the record.

She also wants complete and regular audits in order to find out where every dime of state money goes. Right now NO ONE in SC state government can tell us where the money goes.

We've got a choice between Haley and the same good ol' boy corruption this state has had for way too long. I'll take Nikki Haley--she's one of us and will fight for us as she has already been doing as a representative.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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