bauer marchant

Sensing a moment of maximum weakness for embattled S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer is reiterating an offer he made in the days immediately following the governor’s crisis – to serve the remainder of Sanford’s second term and then step down.

Bauer’s gambit – first reported (this time) by The State newspaper – is designed to increase public pressure on Sanford to resign as the threat of impeachment and removal from office looms larger than ever. At the same time, it is aimed at privately allaying fears of Bauer’s potential opponents in a 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary, particularly S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster.

McMaster, in particular, has resisted efforts to push for Sanford’s resignation or impeachment because he doesn’t want Bauer to have access to the governor’s office – and it’s vast fund-raising potential – over the next 16 months.

Now, however, with Sanford’s position crumbling, McMaster may have cut a deal with Bauer.

Of course, the first time Bauer made this pledge he quickly backtracked, leaving many within the political echo chamber in Columbia wondering then if a deal had been struck – and quickly “un-struck.”

Bauer has yet to formally announce his gubernatorial bid, but he is expected to run for the 2010 GOP nomination in the event a deal is not struck.

Sources tell FITS he is also looking at the Fourth Congressional District race, but those rumors have not been confirmed.

Update – Our bud The Garnet Spy has some interesting speculation on these goings-on …