As the South Carolina Ethics Commission conducts its investigation into Governor Sanford’s trips and various members of the General Assembly speak out on possible impeachment proceedings, the overall political landscape of South Carolina appears dire indeed, says Clemson University Political Science professor and Republican political consultant Dr. David Woodard. Woodard says as long as Sanford battles to stay in office through his term voters will get angrier, more disillusioned, and more mistrusting of politicians in general. Woodard says if he were advising Sanford, he would tell the Governor to resign.
“He’s basically impotent as a politician and as long as he stays in office he hurts the state of South Carolina. I think the state will heal itself becuse people tend to rise in crisis to unusual levels. I think it would be best for him to resign, but I don’t think he would ever take my advice. He gives every indication that he intends to stay until the bitter end and that is not only going to hurt his party but also this state.”
With the Governor waiving his right to confidentiality in the investigation of his trips and asking members of the legislature to do the same considering they he has information on several of them concerning questionable trips at the state’s expense that should be looked into, Woodard says the whole thing could get very ugly.
“Well, this is going to get very nasty as this goes forward. It’s very clear that the two sides are going to fight to the death and bring out anything they can against each other. The accusers in the legislature are going to have people “outing” them of various things so its just going to get horrible for the next 500 days or so.”
Woodard says even though many Republicans have fought with the Governor tooth and nail on various issues and legislative measures voters tend to paint all members of a political party with a broad brush, the Sanford scandal has and will continue to hurt members of the state G.O.P.
“If he stays in office it hurts Republicans, if he leaves office it hurts Republicans. There is no way they can benefit or get any way out of this, as I see it, up until the election. There is no way that they get a pass. I think this only helps the Democrats and as I have said countless times I believe the Democratic Party is going to be revived because of this scandal and I believe they have a number of pretty good candidates.”
Woodard says the only 2010 Republican gubernatorial candidate that may go unhurt by the Sanford scandal is Third District Congressman Gresham Barrett because for the most part he’s been out of the state.
Woodard says when Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer recently called for Sanford to resign and that he would not run for governor in 2010 if the Governor stepped down he thought at first it was a very unusual move, however in hindsight Woodard says he sees it now as a solid example of shrewd strategic political posturing.
“He wins either way. If Sanford had resigned and he went in, he would look heroic. If Sanford doesn’t resign, he looks like a he’s statesman. I don’t think he loses either way this is going. He’s young enough and who can tell what politics is going to look like in two and four years because voters have notoriously short memories. I think Andre Bauer really helped himself in this particular incident.”