There's a growing chorus in South Carolina of people calling for the governor to step down
Sens. John Ensign, David Vitter and Larry Craig may have escaped their own sex scandals relatively unscathed, but it appears the imbroglio South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford put himself in is not going to go away anytime soon. In fact, the situation is just getting worse.
On Wednesday, The State, a South Carolina newspaper that helped to break the story of the governor’s affair, reported that twelve of the twenty-seven members of the state Senate’s Republican Caucus have signed a petition urging Sanford to resign. One indication of the trouble Sanford is in: Majority Leader Harvey Peeler was the one who composed the letter and passed it around to his Republican colleagues. Additionally, two state senators that are close with Sanford did not sign the petition but said they also want him to resign.
Adding to the chorus, on Wednesday afternoon, Carol Fowler, the head of the state’s Democratic party, called for Sanford to step down.
“Every day that members of the General Assembly spend talking about Sanford’s state-funded romance is another day these Republican leaders aren’t tackling the rising unemployment numbers or the plight of our public schools,” Fowler said in a statement. “South Carolina can’t afford to be at a standstill for the next 18 months with a governor who ignores his job responsibilities while pursuing personal interests. Any other worker in South Carolina would be fired for not showing up at work with no notice.”
But one of the reasons some Republican politicians in South Carolina have been wary of forcing Sanford out of office is that the man who would succeed him, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, has his own history of questionable behavior. Publicly, Bauer has seemed to support Sanford, but on Monday he acknowledged that he has discussed with state Republicans the possibility of taking over the governorship in exchange for not running for the position in 2010.
Why would Republicans want to limit his time in office? A Washington Post profile on Bauer details the lieutenant governor’s less than illustrious past:
In 2003, he was charged with driving 60 mph and running two red lights in downtown Columbia. When pulled over, Bauer was so aggressive that a police officer pulled a gun on him … In 2006, Bauer was stopped by a state trooper who clocked him driving 101 mph on an interstate highway. He used his state-issued radio to tell the officer he was “S.C. 2″ — the code for lieutenant governor — and was not ticketed. Then, weeks later, Bauer was injured when the single-engine airplane he was piloting crashed and burned.
There’s a whole other issue of sex related to Bauer, too — namely, rumors about his sexuality, which he directly confronted in an interview with the State this week. Asked if he is gay, Bauer responded, “One word, two letters. ‘No.’ Let’s go ahead and dispel that now.”
Finally, in the wake of all of Sanford’s recent admissions, here’s a campaign video from 2002 that’s a good indication of why everyone should make it a practice never to be sanctimonious on camera (the video’s last line is especially ironic considering Sanford’s recent disclosures).
Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon. More Vincent Rossmeier.
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