When Rep. Mark Sanford was sworn in to Congress in May, marking his improbable return to politics after a scandal that was supposed to derail his career, House leaders faced an immediate problem.
No one wanted to work with him.
"There were multiple committee chairmen who expressed concerns with having Mark on their committee," one House aide said. "Mark had gotten so much attention during his race that they didn't really want distractions."
But you've got to hand it to him, he's making no bones about his moving on from his self-described "failures in 2009," telling a conservative group shortly after his arrival back in D.C., "In some ways, I don't want to spend the rest of my life worrying about the log in my own eye before I worry about the speck in anybody else's, or the speck on any other issue out there."
Examiner reporter Rebecca Berg says Sanford's pressing the reset button in many ways, but is finding that it may not be as simple as just starting over:
He was spotted in the stands at the June 27 congressional softball game, nursing a Miller Lite and chatting with staffers. He speaks fondly of debating the farm bill with other lawmakers over Chinese food, of post-workout chats with colleagues at the House gym, and of popping by the office Rep. Matt Salmon to catch up and reminisce about when the two of them first served together in the House.
Like a transfer student in the middle-school lunch line, Sanford is scoping out opportunities for camaraderie. "I wouldn't say I'm yet at the point of friendship" with Rep. Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican, Sanford mused. But "he's the kind of guy who has a lot of similar views. Someone who could become a friend." In a written statement, Amash described Sanford as "a great defender of liberty and the Constitution."