In the immediate aftermath of Brown’s decision, The Post and Courier made calls to nearly a dozen potential candidates, asking their intent to run for the seat. Most were evident, like gubernatorial candidate AndrÉ Bauer, who had expressed interest in the seat in the past (but will turn down this opportunity).
But one in particular was a big stretch. In case you were wondering, embattled Gov. Mark Sanford isn’t running. Sanford arrived in Columbia in June after a five-day mystery trip to see his mistress in Argentina but only after commandeering a state law enforcement Suburban and deceiving his staff, his wife, and the people of South Carolina.
The whole mess became the top political scandal of 2009 and shined an unpleasant light on Sanford’s spending for high-end hotels and luxury plane rides. You can almost picture the Swift Boat commercial: A flight attendant with a nice, exotic tan wakes Sanford up from his horizontal chair in business class. He sits up to find a three-course meal on fine table linen, along with his favorite cocktail, no charge. Cut to three South Carolina voters crammed into an aisle in coach as one tries to get the attention of a stewardess.
This and other attacks would be unavoidable, says Jeri Cabot, a political science professor at the College of Charleston.
“It’d be too soon,” she says. “He can’t run from that.”
Then there’s the fact that Sanford, the three-term Congressman who served prior to Brown, didn’t really wow constituents in the first place.
“He has a pretty dismal track record,” Cabot says, including opposition to federal money coming to the South Carolina coast, including money for the Cooper River Bridge, as well as merely adequate constituent service. “It was kind of like, ‘Why was he there?’” she says.
A better fit may be private advocacy, where Sanford won’t be dogged by his affair, at least not in a campaign.