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Mark Sanford drops third ad in special election

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Ahead of the primary in South Carolina's special congressional election later this month, former Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican who's trying to make a comeback after a particularly public scandal, released a new TV ad Thursday.

In all, that means the Sanford campaign has already spent about $170,000 on three TV ads, according to spokesman Joel Sawyer. More should be known about campaign's finances before midnight tonight, when their reports are due with the Federal Election Commission. The ads were discovered on Ad Hawk, a Sunlight Foundation mobile app to identify the funders behind political ads.

Sanford's ad comes the same day as the first ad launched by the race's Democratic frontrunner Elizabeth Colbert Busch -- the sister of comedian Stephen Colbert. She's emphasizing her business background (and, in the ad, pronounces the same she shares with her famous brother without the French accent he adds). There have also been multiple ads run by one of Sanford's Republican opponents, Teddy Turner, a high school teacher and the son of media mogul Ted Turner.

Sanford, now engaged to the Argentine mistress who ended his marriage -- and, until this race, it seemed his political career -- started out with a fundraising advantage, with about $120,000 in leftover funds from his last stint in Congress, which ended in 2001 after a self-imposed three-year term limit. He's running in the same district he once represented, which became late last year when the GOP incumbent, Tim Scott, was appointed to the Senate seat vacated by Jim DeMint.

In the new ad, Sanford called himself "financially the most conservative governor in America and the "first governor to turn down stimulus money," a effort that failed when South Carolina's Supreme Court ruled the state must accept the $700 million.

Sanford also tells TV viewers that, as governor, "we saved almost a billion dollars."

Some large contributions to the candidates' campaigns have been reported already, including a $5,000 donation to Colbert Busch by from the leadership PAC of Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., who also hosted a D.C. fundraiser for her earlier this week and who at one time sparred with Sanford over his refusal to accept stimulus funds. Her bank account has also already benefited from the "Colbert bump," with her high-profile younger brother hosting high-dollar fundraisers for her. 

A longer list of contributors, and the amount each campaign has in the bank, is due today: Candidates in the March 19 primaries must file campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission by midnight. The election is May 7.