Five reasons Mark Sanford might last as South Carolina governor
South Carolina's embattled governor, Mark Sanford, could yet face impeachment, but he got a lift this week when most ethics charges against him were dropped.
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Sanford's replacement: a loose cannon? If Sanford is impeached, youthful Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer would serve out the term. Though a political force by himself, Mr. Bauer is seen by many as more of a loose cannon than Sanford, making the governor seem downright Peter Parker-esque in comparison. Bauer highlights include denying rumors that he's gay, crashing a small plane, and getting out of two speeding tickets, one that clocked him at near the 100 m.p.h. mark.Skip to next paragraph
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Who cares? The ethics hearing this week was no circus, writes WFAE-FM reporter Julie Rose. Instead, reporters were pretty much the only ones who showed up to the hearing. Even Sanford didn't bother to attend, sending his lawyers instead.
"The public has really gotten tired of the story – we're at almost the six-month mark here," Robert Oldendick, a political scientist at the University of South Carolina, told Ms. Rose. "There is also not the sense in the public that anything is close to happening at this point."
Other scandals overshadow Sanford. With most of the ethics charges dismissed, the case is back to square one: Was Sanford remiss in leaving the state and turning off his cellphone for five days?
That's obviously a big deal, but what's worse: Lying to his staff about his whereabouts and being AWOL for a few days, or reminding the entire nation of South Carolina's political obstreperousness – a trait defined by Union loyalist James Petigru in 1860 when he described the Palmetto State, in an oft-quoted quip, as "too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum"?
Indeed, how do Sanford's shortcomings compare, in the public square, with the state treasurer being sentenced to prison last year for cocaine possession, the jailing of the state ag commissioner for his ties to a cockfighting ring, or the resignation of a conservative school board member after it came to light she had posted "adult" fiction on the Internet?
Still, Sanford is not out of the woods. The original "abandonment of office" charge could yet stick. But cobbling together a two-thirds vote to impeach seems more difficult now, and the House is more likely to move toward a censure, analysts say.
"The Importantville Impeachers and Buenos Aires Narcissists battled to a 6-6 tie in Game Whatever of the seemingly interminable 2009 Impeachment Series – an ongoing battle necessitated by S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford’s repeated refusal to resign from his largely ceremonial office."
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