The State is trumpeting the latest word from Gov Lite Andre Bauer that he would NOT run for governor in 2010 if only we’ll let him serve in the job as a temp between now and then:
EXCLUSIVE – Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer plans to call on embattled Gov. Mark Sanford to step down during a noon news conference today. Bauer will also renew his pledge to bow out of the 2010 gubernatorial race should Sanford resign within a month or so. By early October Bauer will formally announce his intentions to seek the GOP nomination for governor in 2010.
Bauer is the first constitutional officer to join a growing chorus of lawmakers pushing for Sanford to resign, including a majority of Republican state senators.
Today’s announcement, according to a source close to Bauer, is intended to send a message to State House leadership that Sanford needs to step down and Bauer won’t stand in the way. Some lawmakers have been hesitant to push for Sanford’s resignation because it would give Bauer an unfair advantage in the 2010 race, as he would be running for governor as an incumbent.
There are several points to make about this development:
- First, does he really mean it this time? Andre floated the “I won’t run if you let me be governor now” balloon before, then added a sotto voce “maybe” to the non-pledge. If we can hold him to it this time, it makes all the difference.
- All the difference, I say again. It changes everything. Before some (such as my friends at The State) have maintained it was too dangerous for South Carolina for Mark Sanford to resign now, because it would give Andre a leg up in the 2010 race, and the actual election of Andre Bauer as our governor for four years would be disastrous. I have disagreed. I mean, I agree that Andre winning in 2010 would be horrific. But I disagree on whether an interim elevation would help him. Here’s the thing, folks: As things stand, Andre has about as good a chance as any other Republican of being elected if he runs. Scoff if you will, but I have watched this unlikely fellow win election after election when it made no sense at all. In a crowded field, he would not get nearly the scrutiny he should get. But put him in the top job now, at a time when the governor’s office is under the closest scrutiny I have ever seen in this state, and his many flaws would be magnified; they could not be missed. To me, the one way to make sure Andre Bauer is not elected governor is to give him the job now. But if he promises not to run, and we can hold him to it, there’s nothing left to argue about. There is no question that it would be in the best interests of the state to let him occupy the seat for a few months.
- And no, we wouldn’t be giving up anything in the leadership department. Even before the current scandals, Mark Sanford was a dead loss for this state as governor. The limitations of the office, the circumstances of his promotion, and the wariness of State House leadership would prevent Andre from doing real harm. And since there was no chance Mark Sanford was going to do any good, there’s nothing lost. Yes, this state needs real leadership from the governor’s office. But letting Andre have the job now increases the chance that the voters will get serious and elect somebody good next year.
- Unfortunately, “Sanford should go” is a lot easier to say than to make happen. The man is immune to political pressure from within his own party or from any other quarter. He does what pleases Mark Sanford. He always has, and always will. And the rumblings about impeachment are unpersuasive to me. The idea that South Carolina Republicans will actually summon the will power to impeach one of their own — even one whom they despise as much as they do Sanford — is hard for me to imagine. We’ve seen some unlikely things happen in the news lately — Santee Cooper backing down on the coal plant, the Rev. Jimmy Jones deciding not to build a duplicative homeless service shelter, neither of which I expected to see — but SC Republicans summoning the chutzpah to do that would be truly stunning. Anyway, the deal Andre is offering doesn’t seem to apply in the case of impeachment. Sanford has to resign, and he’s under a deadline to do it — by the first of October, roughly. So if anyone has the lever that will move our gov, now is the time to insert it and start prying.
- Talk about your ironies: By making this gesture, calling upon the governor to resign and making his promise, Andre Bauer is exercising true leadership. In fact, one would have to go back a few years to find an instance of leadership by a governor or would-be governor that compares to this. Yes, the idea of Andre Bauer being our governor is appalling. And yet he’s doing this. Whatever else we say, I give him credit for it. Sure, he’s probably banking on the smart bet that there’s no way Sanford will quit. But it’s still impressive.
What do y’all think?