COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina’s lieutenant governor called on Gov. Mark Sanford to resign Wednesday, promising to put aside his own political ambitions if that convinces fellow Republicans wary of elevating him to urge Sanford to step down.
Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer is now the most prominent state Republican pressing for Sanford’s resignation two months after the governor came under fire for sneaking away to a secret rendezvous with his Argentine mistress.
“It is my opinion the best interest of the people of South Carolina can no longer be served by the current administration,” Bauer said. “The serious misconduct that has been revealed along with lingering questions and continuing distractions make it virtually impossible for our state to solve the critical problems we’re facing without a change in leadership.”
Sanford has said before he has no plans to resign, but his spokesman did not return several calls and e-mails Wednesday.
Bauer said he tried to give his fellow Republican the benefit of the doubt after he admitted his affair with the Argentine woman, but the state has been paralyzed by questions raised afterward about the legality of Sanford’s official travel. Bauer said he worries calls for Sanford’s impeachment will dominate next year’s legislative session instead of issues like the economy and job creation.
Bauer was widely expected to run for governor in 2010 but said he will not if that’s what it takes to encourage other Republicans to call for Sanford’s resignation. Some had been wary, fearing Bauer would get a long-term tryout for the job if Sanford stepped down.
“If taking me out of the governor’s race makes this happen, and we move forward quickly, then yes, I’m willing to forgo the opportunities that I may have to be the next governor for four or eight years in the best interests of the people of South Carolina,” Bauer said.
Sacrificing the run for governor next year could boost Bauer’s status in the state GOP but still allow the 40-year-old plenty of time for another election. His announcement comes a day after the first formal gubernatorial campaign news conference by Republican Attorney General Henry McMaster.