One thing he doesn’t have this time is his now-ex-wife, Jenny, who ran his earlier campaigns. She wrote a blistering book about their marriage but is keeping a low profile.

“Mark did ask me to run his campaign and I told him clearly, I wasn’t interested. I also declined requests to help others in the race and hope to remain fully on the sidelines watching the race unfold like everyone else in the 1st District,” she wrote in response to an emailed question. Jenny Sanford herself pondered running, but dismissed Congress as a “dysfunctional” waste of her time…

In an interview, Sanford, 52, said he was “overwhelmed” by “the level of human grace” that he had encountered in the campaign.

“Obviously, there’s a vulnerability to me now that people respond to,” he said. “They open themselves up in a way that they didn’t when they think that you’re invulnerable or perfect.”