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#SC2018: The Revenge Of Mark Sanford?

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Soon-to-be former U.S. congressman Mark Sanford lost his first election ever earlier this month.  Since then, he’s embarked on a whirlwind media tour casting himself as the first “Republican” casualty of U.S. president Donald Trump.

“It’s clearly not about issues,” a tearful Sanford told Andy Kroll of Rolling Stone. “It’s about allegiance to him.”

Sanford isn’t entirely incorrect in that assessment, but his attempt to frame a compelling national narrative around his defeat simply doesn’t work.

The truth of the matter is this: Sanford lost huge chunks of his base because he morphed from principled citizen legislator to complete and total sellout (which, sadly, is a road he’s been on for some time now).  Sure, a lot of people probably declined to support him because he wasn’t with Trump … but many of them no doubt declined to support him because he became part of the “Republican” establishment in Washington, D.C.

Seriously, this “taxpayer hero” who voted for uber-liberal former U.S. speaker of the House John Boehner.  And then told us Jesus made him do it

Then there is Sanford’s chronic hypocrisy, the nauseatingly infuriating “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do” sanctimony that has defined him for years.  Like criticizing others for having affairs (ahem) or taking credit for road funding … that he voted against.

“Never liked him too much,” Trump said of Sanford during a campaign stop in West Columbia, S.C. earlier this week.

We don’t disagree with Trump … as we made clear in our coverage of Sanford’s most recent election.

Of course, it’s important to remember Sanford spent the final two weeks of his failed 2018 congressional bid spending tens of thousands of dollars on television ads aimed at convincing GOP voters in his district that he supported Trump.

Now he wants to play the martyr?  

Slow your roll, “Sanfraud.” Slow your roll.

But there is one way the former governor could get the last laugh in his battle with Trump … and potentially (partially) rehabilitate himself with many of the voters who now view him as suspect on fiscal issues.

What “way” is that?  Running for governor.

Which, incidentally, is something he wants to do anyway.

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Incumbent “Republican” governor Henry McMaster captured the GOP gubernatorial nomination earlier this week with just under 54 percent of the vote.

That’s an embarrassing print – and it would have been even worse had he not been propped up by the White House at every step of his campaign.

McMaster was gifted the governor’s office by Trump.  His campaign coffers were filled by the president last fall.  And Trump bailed him out once again on the eve of the election by appearing at a get-out-the-vote rally (the same West Columbia event where he assailed Sanford).

Also, McMaster lucked out when his GOP primary rivals were forced to spend their money savaging one another in the hopes of advancing to a runoff election against the governor – a process which simultaneously served to insulate him from criticism at a critical point in the race.

McMaster is the definition of a weak candidate – which even his own people seem to sense.  Within hours of his runoff “victory,” his own running mate – Upstate businesswoman Pam Evette – was reportedly telling supporters that she, not McMaster, would seek the gubernatorial nomination in 2022.

Yeah … and that calculus assumes McMaster is able to defeat James Smith and his centrist running mate Mandy Powers Norrell in November, which we would argue is hardly a sure thing even in one of the brightest red states in America.

Could Sanford impact the outcome of that race?

Absolutely.

Despite his congressional loss, the “Luv Gov” still has a devout following of hardcore supporters all over the state.  Not only that, he has more than $1 million sitting in his 2006 gubernatorial account – a sum the adept fundraiser could likely double before the summer is over.  Also, that’s in addition to whatever is left over from his congressional account – which Sanford could transfer to a state campaign with the permission of donors.

In other words, Sanford is a viable contender … not necessarily to win, but to take a sizable chunk of votes away from McMaster.

Will he do it? 

Who knows.  This news site will never again support Sanford in another electoral bid – for any political office.  But we’re sure as hell not about to supportMcMaster, either.

Stay tuned … 2018 still has the potential to get very, very interesting.

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