S.C. Statehouse Report
Sunday, April 1, 2007
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/07.0401.veep.htm

Sanford not a good VP choice
By Andy Brack, Publisher

APRIL 1 , 2007 -- Gov. Mark Sanford announced today that he expects to be picked as the Republican vice presidential candidate for 2008.

April Fool's!

In fact, about the quickest, surefire way around the Statehouse to get a bunch of rolling eyeballs, exasperated looks or pregnant pauses is to ask a simple, nine-word question: "Mark Sanford for vice president - - good idea or bad idea?"

It's a good bet Sanford will be on a short-list as a vice presidential choice for several Republican presidential contenders.

"There's some wonderful people right here in this state, as you know, Gov. Sanford being one of them," said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney when asked about a running mate during a recent Bluffton campaign stop.

For Romney, Sen. John McCain and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Sanford could add balance to a GOP ticket.

Stunts like carrying two pigs into the Statehouse lobby endeared Sanford to S.C. voters, but not to state lawmakers.

First, Sanford essentially is an anti-government Washington outsider now, although he spent six years in Washington as a congressman in the 1990s. He's also seen as a darling of fiscal conservatives and conservative think tanks.

Next, he's a governor, which could help folks like McCain and Giuliani. Governors tend to be seen as more active than Washington insiders. Cases in point: The last two presidents were governors, not Beltway bandits.

Third, he's Southern - - something McCain, Giuliani and Romney certainly are not. And while Democratic politicos say the South of the future will become more Democratic, Southern states remain solidly red today. As such, a big part of the GOP base is in the South, which means a non-Southern candidate may need a Southern running mate.

Finally, Sanford is smooth and handsome. He has a good demeanor about him, notes College of Charleston political scientist Bill Moore: "He makes a good impression. He could be a ticket-balancer."

But Sanford - - the guy who most of the time doesn't seem to have his whole heart in being South Carolina's governor - - as the guy who is one step away from leading America?

Bad idea.

"We [in America] would all be in trouble," one House Democrat said.

A senior House Republican wagged, "I'd like to see him do it so we can get back to business. He's killing the state in economic development."

A key GOP member of the Senate added, "I don't see it in the cards."

Sanford's record - - or lack of it as governor - - speaks volumes about why he isn't vice-presidential material.

In the past four legislative sessions, he's gotten no major initiative of his own passed. He's failed on reducing income taxes for his rich friends. He's failed on school vouchers for rich friends. He's failed to curb runaway spending as the state, under GOP legislative control, has boosted spending more than $1.5 billion in the last four years.


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Other things to keep in mind under the Sanford administration:

  • His annual vetoes and stunts have earned him longstanding scorn of the General Assembly.

  • Time magazine rated him one of the nation's three worst governors a couple of years back.

  • He's got no real jobs plan. The state has lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs under his watch and the state's unemployment rate has been in the top five in the nation for months. The state Commerce Department essentially was gutted under his watch, although it has started being built up again.

Yes, there are some positive things from the last four years. Sanford has a good record as a conservationist due to his support of funding the Conservation Bank and use of the bully pulpit to urge lawmakers to stop raiding conservation trust funds. He also recently helped broker a deal to build a port in Jasper County with Georgia, although it still is unclear why a third port is needed.

But for all his time as governor, Sanford's maverick, I'm-right-you're-wrong style doesn't come close to the kind of person needed to be the nation's second-in-command.

Let's hope for America that GOP presidential candidates give him a pass as a running mate.

You can reach Andy Brack, publisher of SC Statehouse Report, at brack@statehousereport.com.

Recent commentary

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Another great cartoon by Bill McLemore:

3/26: House off-base on ultrasound vote

To the editor:

It sickens me that the men in the House of Representatives have the audacity to interfere in a woman's reproductive life. These decisions do not come easily for the women they affect. These men don't even know what goes on with the women in their own lives, because it is a personal decision to have an abortion and nobody ever tells Daddy.

-- Ree Mallison, West Columbia, S.C.

3/25: Condemns abortion

To the editor:

I urge you to use your news writings to condemn the continuous murder of unborn babies -- 44 million to date. Your article seems oblivious to the terrible tradegy (sic) of abortion.

P.S. The abortion of children makes the World War II holocaust miniscule in comparison.

-- George W. Dargan, Darlington, S.C.

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Some counties take ed hit
From the paid-subscriber issue of Statehouse Report

MARCH 30, 2007 -- In 2006, the General Assembly passed a property tax reform act that not only capped the amount a home's taxable value could be grow over a given time, but it also removed first homes from the ranks of property taxation that counties could use to fund their K-12 public school districts.

In place of property taxes on primary homes for schools, the legislature included a statewide 1-cent sales tax. The thinking was to let well-heeled travelers from around the world pay for statewide K-12 public education.

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