On Tuesday, May 7, 2013, the political world was stunned by the victory of disgraced former governor Mark Sanford in a special election for US Representative from South Carolina’s First District. Sanford, who is reclaiming the seat which began his political career in 1994, was as much as nine points behind his Democratic challenger Elizabeth Colbert Busch (TV personality Stephen Colbert’s sister) as little as two weeks before the election. But he had moved into a statistical tie by the weekend before, and finished a surprising nine points ahead. Although the district is a reliably conservative one (Mitt Romney won it by more than 20 points in 2012), Colbert Busch had a campaign war chest of over a million dollars, more than five times that raised by the scandal-ridden Sanford.
Sanford’s rocky road to disgrace and redemption began in 2009, when after an unscheduled and unexplained absence from office for six days, he held a very awkward press conference to explain his whereabouts. He had in fact not been “hiking on the Appalachian trail,” the story given out by aides when his absence was noted, but rather had flown off to Argentina to spend time with his mistress, whom he described as “the love of my life, my soul mate,” leaving not only his official duties but also his wife of 20 years and their four sons, the youngest just nine at the time. Sanford took the opportunity to resign from his leadership position as chair of the Republican Governor’s Association, but finished his current term as South Carolina’s governor.
Governor Sanford’s wife, Jenny, divorced him after that revelation. That mistress is now his fiancée. But even this attempt to regularize his domestic life did not seem sufficient to overcome the bad taste left in the mouth of his constituents, appalled by their former governor’s behavior. However, special elections are driven by turnout more than most, and diehard conservative support in outlying counties of the district, where Sanford garnered 40 point victory margins, gave him the win.
Election Day showed a sky which was sensationally poised to describe the conflict, with amazingly close contacts between asteroids representing the contestants. Four asteroids with names matching the candidates walked right into the ongoing Uranus/Pluto square which dominates our world currently. Asteroids Marc (#71445, for Mark) and Colbert (#9164) joined exactly at 9 Libra, squared Pluto at 11 Capricorn and opposed Uranus at 10 Aries. Asteroid Busch at 13 Cancer and Sanford at 14 Cancer completed a Grand Cross, opposing Pluto and squaring Uranus. With such phenomenally close contacts and exact matches, picking a winner in advance was simply not possible, but in the final analysis the determining factor may have been asteroid Elisabetha (#412, for Elizabeth), which at 0 Pisces was conjoined Neptune at 5 Pisces, a planet known for bringing disappointment in its wake.
But throughout the tangled tale of Sanford’s sordid past and victorious present, personal-named asteroids (PNAs) have taken a lead in demonstrating his terrestrial actions in celestial reflection. In June of 2009, when Sanford exposed his extramarital affair, a conjunction of asteroid Pecker and planet Saturn was forming in the sky, indicating the potential for sexual shenanigans in the government sphere (a combination which also scooped up former Nevada Senator John Ensign in its net that summer).
Pecker may technically be named for Jean-Claude Pecker, former director of the Nice observatory in southern France, but that doesn’t prevent its more colloquial side from expressing itself. As a common euphemism for penis, Pecker (#1629) joins such asteroid worthies as Wiener (#18182) and Dick (#17458) in describing libidinous male peccadilloes. So having the planet associated with governmental authority figures traveling with an asteroid representing the male sexual organ is just asking for trouble.
Mark Sanford’s chart is even more revealing of this potential for penile mischief (born 28 May 1960). [For more on Asteroid Pecker and politicians' pecadilloes including Sanford's, see A Potluck of Political Peckers, Daykeeper December 2009, and Weinergate, Daykeeper June 2011.]
Pecker at 8 Aries is exactly squared to a Quasar at 8 Cancer, a type of deep space anomaly, this one among the brightest objects in the universe. Astrologically, Quasars highlight whatever they contact, illumining it for all to see, like a beacon on a hilltop. This is obviously a really bad placement for anyone attempting to be discreet about sexual indiscretions, and with Pecker also in sextile aspect to Sanford’s natal Sun at 7 Gemini, he never had much hope of maintaining his private’s privacy. Pecker is also conjoined with Chaos at 9 Aries and is further conjunct asteroid Lust at 1 Aries and planet Mars at 13 Aries, itself conjunct asteroid Eros (representing erotic passion) at 14 Aries. Mars, Pecker, Lust and Eros form quite a bundle of sexual energies, and Chaos in the mix ensures that all does not run smoothly. [For more on prominent placements of the asteroid Lust, see The Naughty Bits Part II: Asteroid Lust, Daykeeper September 2010.]
But it gets better. Pecker is also squared to asteroid Dick at 10 Cancer, which broadly opposes natal Jupiter (politics) at 1 Capricorn and natal Saturn (career, chief executive) at 17 Capricorn. Wiener also has a role to play—at 5 Virgo it is squared the Sun, indicating the prominence of “zipper issues” to Sanford’s saga. It is further conjoined natal Pluto at 3 Virgo, describing the devastating effect these might have in his life. Oddly, Sanford’s wife Jenny also has an exact asteroid referent (#607) which falls in the natal chart at 26 Taurus exactly conjoined centaur Nessus, the ultimate celestial harbinger of “men behaving badly” in the sexual sphere, and therefore identifying her as a prime target for its fallout. [For more on Nessus, see Nessus: Men Behaving Badly, Daykeeper July 2011.]
Sanford’s affair was with an Argentine woman named Maria Belen Chapur, and asteroids Argentina (#469) and Maria (#170) both feature prominently in his birth chart and the sky on June 24, 2009, when he made public his infidelity. In Sanford’s birth chart, asteroid Argentina at 28 Pisces is exactly conjunct a Black Hole, indicating a potential for sudden, dramatic or unexpected reversals of the status quo, and within orb of both Lust and Pecker. Maria stands at 16 Capricorn, where she is inextricably linked with his natal Saturn at 17 Capricorn, emblematic of his career and the governor’s office which he held. Also here is TNO (Trans-Neptunian Object) Salacia at 15 Capricorn, from which we derive our word “salacious,” meaning lustful or lecherous, to convey undue emphasis on the sexual, indicating an inherent linkage between this energy and that of career, bound up in a woman named Maria. Asteroid Maria is also exactly sextile to natal asteroid Sanford at 16 Pisces, further binding the couple.
When he announced their affair,
- Asteroid Maria in the sky had just recently returned to its natal position, and at 18 Capricorn was still conjoined the natal Salacia/Maria/Saturn stellium.
- In its wake was asteroid Wiener at 16 Capricorn, exactly conjunct with natal Maria and further activating Saturn/Salacia.
- Asteroid Argentina at 20 Sagittarius was conjoined Sanford’s natal asteroid Marc at 21 Sagittarius as well as natal Aphrodite (#1388) at 18 Sagittarius, representing flirtations and affairs of the heart.
- Asteroid Argentina was also exactly sextile asteroid Damocles at 20 Aquarius in the sky, denoting the doom hanging overhead that had finally caught up with him. (Natal Marc/Aphrodite is another signal that Sanford might be likely to stray romantically.)
- Transit Uranus, the planet ruling shocks, upsets and revelations, at 26 Pisces was just creeping up on his natal Argentina at the time.
- The Pecker/Saturn conjunction still forming in the sky was now at 13/16 Virgo, squared natal Aphrodite and trine natal Maria/Saturn, with Pecker exactly inconjunct (150 degrees) Sanford’s natal Mars at 13 Aries.
- Saturn exactly trined natal Maria and exactly opposed natal Sanford.
- Transit asteroid Jenny at 17 Cancer was exactly opposed natal Saturn at 17 Capricorn, prefiguring the loss through divorce that was to come.
Oh, what a tangled web we weave! For now, it’s back to square one for Mark Sanford, reclaiming the congressional seat that started it all, when he was first elected as a freshman foot soldier in the 1994 “Republican Revolution” which swept the GOP back into power in the House after 40 years in the legislative wilderness. We’ve all seen the regrettable, not to say devastating, effects of that political dominance over the past two decades. We can only hope that it’s a kinder, gentler, more open-to-compromise Mark Sanford who picks up the tattered threads of his political ambition as he heads back to Washington.