In the Palmetto State, it’s not an easy transition from the lieutenant governor’s office to the big boy chair. As the lite gov, you’ve got little responsibility other than wearing a bright purple robe in Senate hearings and running state programs that support senior citizens. Snooze.

Over the past seven years, Lt. Gov. André Bauer has done his best to ruin his own chances at the top spot, with a mound of speeding tickets and the narrowest of re-election “victories.” In the past year, Bauer sealed his fate with one horrible misstep after another.

In the latest Rasmussen poll on May 17, Bauer’s support had shrunk from 17 percent in early March to 12 percent. Even more troubling, his “very unfavorable” rating among likely Republican voters was at 18 percent — that’s nearly one in five faithful voters from his own party who can’t stand him.

June 8 is likely to end Bauer’s political career, at least for now, and he has no one to blame but himself. What happened? Here’s a breakdown.

Sacrificial Ham: If there was one moment that illuminated the lieutenant governor’s lack of authority, it was Gov. Mark Sanford’s mystery trip to Argentina. The governor was gone for days with no contact with his office or his family, and it still wasn’t clear whether Bauer was actually in charge.

Once the governor was back, and we learned that he’d snuck off to South America to see his mistress, foes were calling for his ouster. But Bauer had his own critics in the GOP leadership who successfully argued that it was better to have the philandering, deceptive, hypocritical governor we know than the one we don’t. How’s that for an early primary unendorsement?

Gay Prod: In an interview with The State last summer, unprompted by the reporter, Bauer addressed a persistent rumor that the lifelong bachelor was gay: “One word. Two letters. No.”

But he wasn’t getting away from the rumors that easily. National blogger Michael Rogers, who makes it his mission to shine a light on hypocritical gay politicians, posted claims in August that he’d spoken with men who’d slept with and been propositioned by Bauer. Worse than that, state Sen. Jake Knotts, a Bauer ally, called the gay rumors a coordinated smear from the Sanford camp. His high-profile rant brought national attention to the story.

Starve Lazy Voters: Bauer’s grandmother “was not a highly educated woman,” but she apparently taught him that if you feed stray animals, they breed. He told a Greenville GOP audience that the same thing holds true for people on public assistance programs. It was obviously a horrible analogy, made worse by a comment later in the same speech that noted schools with a lot of students on free lunch are performing the worst.

Bauer doubled-down on his attack on the mythical welfare queens, going on to say that opportunistic business owners weren’t to blame for the state’s illegal immigration problem, it was lazy South Carolinians.

“The problem is we have a give-away system in this country and in this state that is so strong that people would rather sit home and do nothing than do these jobs,” Bauer told a debate crowd last month. “Laziness is not a disability.”

Failure to Launch: Through all of that, Bauer was still talking like a candidate, standing on debate stages with other candidates, raising money like a candidate, but begging off questions about whether he was actually in the race. He must have been hoping to find a news cycle that wasn’t already bogged down with some other embarrassing Bauer story.

It actually wasn’t until a formal announcement three weeks into March that Bauer made it official. Compare that to his opponents: Congressman Gresham Barrett was in the race more than a year earlier, state Rep. Nikki Haley was in the ring last May, and Attorney General Henry McMaster announced his campaign run on Aug. 24.

I guess you could say that Bauer’s run for governor was literally over before it began.

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