By the time you read this piece, Gov. Mark Sanford will likely have trounced his Republican opposition, Dr. Oscar Lovelace, in the June 13 primary.

That’s the rub of weekly publications — timing is everything.

Anyhoo, The Eye spent the better part of last week watching the last of South Carolina ETV and The State’s televised debates between the various party figures hanging themselves out there for public consumption and statewide offices.

The debates, for the most part, were relatively uneventful, although The Eye did derive a great deal of entertainment from watching the seriously injured Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer insist on standing next to the gravely height-challenged Mike Campbell.

The Eye imagined Bauer thinking to himself, “Hey, Little Man, even on crutches God has made me bigger than you!”

The final debate was to be between Sanford and Lovelace, but on the Monday before the Wednesday night program, Sanford declined the invitation.

ETV communications vice president Catherine Christman said, “We are pleased that Mr. Lovelace will be in our studios Wednesday, though disappointed that the governor won’t be there to participate in the debate, since it would have been the only statewide opportunity for citizens to hear both men’s thoughts on issues of importance.”

Sanford’s office said the governor had never committed to the debate and that the governor was spending last week reviewing the recently ratified state budget that he received at the end of the legislative session and 65 other veto bills.

Sanford also went on a five-city tour to take to the people his grievances with the budget and his plan to line-item veto millions in planned spending that he felt was not vital to the state’s “core” operations.

“Core” operations? What the hell — Sanford’s such a notorious tightwad, even the fire department could be considered outside such a purview.

Although Sanford didn’t have much to gain from debating Lovelace, The Eye thinks he should have shown up (a) out of common courtesy and (b) because he made such a big stink about having lots of debates during his race with then-Gov. Jim Hodges (D).

You can’t have it both ways, Marky-Mark. People will begin to notice the double standard.

Sanford’s five-city tour also struck The Eye as a possible boomerang for the governor as it highlighted his snit fit with the recently ratified budget he received from the General Assembly a couple of weeks ago. Instead of working with lawmakers, Sanford has been lobbing public complaints that have done nothing but piss people off. The end result is that his vetoes will likely be overridden (again) and he will attempt to enjoy a bit of electioneering martyrdom.

However, The Eye is picking up a growing sentiment among Sanford’s “core” constituency: rich white guys who don’t want to pay any taxes.

Like many of its writing colleagues, The Eye spends an inordinate amount of time in restaurants — not enjoying heady luncheons and suppers discussing the latest cultural trends or publishing gossip, but slinging hash in order to pay the bills.

In that capacity, The Eye was serving a group of well-off graduates of a certain local military college and couldn’t help but overhear vociferous discontent with Sanford from said diners, including their wives.

Now that’s odd. It’s especially unlike South Carolina Republicans to violate Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not attack a fellow member of the GOP. If these guys are grousing about Sanford, then The Eye would love to hear what they’re saying in the Upstate and the Midlands.

Money can’t buy everything, Marko, but compromise can engineer good will and perhaps actually accomplish something for a change.