Monday, June 29, 2009

The rats' nest of South Carolina politics

For lovers of political intrigue, there's a fascinating article here in the New York Times about the swirl of plotting and counter-plotting around the future of Governor Mark Sanford of South Carolina. He's the governor who was supposedly nude hiking on the Appalachians and then turned out to be allegedly ending an affair with an Argentinian lady.

The varied responses of state political leaders to the affair serve as clues to their alliances and complex interests. Some have called outright for the governor’s resignation, while others have suggested that the gentlemanly thing to do is give Mr. Sanford enough rope to hang himself.
Such remarks have less to do with Mr. Sanford’s flaws than with the 2010 race for governor, which already had a full field of contenders because Mr. Sanford was limited to two terms.
One likely candidate in particular, Lt. Gov. André Bauer, stands to gain if Mr. Sanford resigns, because he will fill the vacancy and be able to run for governor as an incumbent. His expected opponents in the Republican field want to prevent that by keeping Mr. Sanford in office, no matter how much animosity they may feel for him.

The intrigue, complete with e-mail messages plotting the governor’s demise and
Twitter debates among high-level staff members, is playing out in a state with serious problems like extremely high unemployment, now led by a governor who has become a late-night television punch line.

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