Bauer Benefits If Sanford Stays?

The conventional wisdom is that South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer's chances of being elected governor in 2010 will increase if Bauer becomes governor in 2009. ...
by | June 29, 2009

The conventional wisdom is that South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer's chances of being elected governor in 2010 will increase if Bauer becomes governor in 2009. If Mark Sanford resigns, the power of incumbency will give Bauer the advantage in an election in which he is currently just one of four credible Republicans who are running.

In fact, the conventional wisdom is that this very dynamic makes it more likely that Sanford will stay in office. The benefit to Bauer would be so great that supporters of rival Republicans are reluctant to push for Sanford's removal.

In that context, Brad Warthen presents some unconventional wisdom:

Just for the sake of argument, count me among those who believe the opposite: That becoming governor now would put Andre under public scrutiny far more intense than he would experience as just one candidate among several for a few months next year.

You have to understand -- the lieutenant governor of South Carolina is about as close to a non-entity as you get for a statewide elected official. That's no reflection on Andre; it's an observation about the job. It's supposed to be part-time. Andre's friends in the Senate gave him that Office on Aging gig just to make it look like he's doing something.

...

If Andre were suddenly elevated to governor, particularly after this one collapsed so spectacularly under the weight of scandal, the spotlight on him would be as intense as the noonday sun. And while I think he's matured a good bit in recent years, and learned to present himself far more capably than in the early days -- the impression he made on us at his endorsement interview in 2006 was as different from my previous encounters with him as the night is from the day -- I just don't think he'd hold up well under such examination.

Warthen makes an interesting argument. Still, if Bauer is going to wilt under scrutiny, his chances for a successful political career are pretty low, whether he becomes governor now or not. And the lieutenant governor himself clearly is falling on the side of the conventional wisdom, not Warthen.

From the New York Times:

Meanwhile, Mr. Bauer's camp appears to have been orchestrating pressure for a resignation.

"André Bauer is my client; I've been working this since Monday," wrote Chris LaCivita, a political consultant on Mr. Bauer's team, in an e-mail message to another Republican political operative that was provided to The New York Times by an opponent of Mr. Bauer. "I need to get this guy (Sanford) out," he wrote, referring to the governor.

But Mr. LaCivita stumbled into the mare's nest of South Carolina politics, apparently unaware that he was sending the message to an ally of Mr. McMaster, who has declined to call for the governor's resignation and said that any investigation of the governor should be free of political motivations.

(Hat tip: Palmetto Scoop)

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.

More from Politics