A defiant South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford said Wednesday that he will not resign despite Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer’s plea to do so earlier in the day.
“Im not going to be railroaded out of [office],” Mr. Sanford said at a televised press conference at 3:30 p.m. in the West Wing of the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C.
Mr. Sanford, who in June admitted to a yearlong extramarital affair with an Argentine woman, said that regardless of the press’s preoccupation with his infidelity and the use of taxpayer money for some meetings with his mistress, the people of South Carolina have “moved on” and were no longer focused on the personal affairs of the governor.
He implied that the voters had forgiven him enough to let him complete his second elected term, which runs until January 2011.
“We have an incredible record,” he said of his nearly seven years as governor.
But Mr. Bauer, at his noon press conference, said the resignation of Mr. Sanford, 49, would be for the good of the state.
The 40-year-old lieutenant governor said he had tried to give Mr. Sanford “the benefit of the doubt” after he admitted to the affair but that the state “has been paralyzed by questions about the legality of Mr. Sanford’s travel,” according to news service accounts.
Mr. Bauer said he worried that calls for Mr. Sanford’s “impeachment will dominate next year’s legislative session instead of issues like the economy and job creation.”
The two men, both Republicans, have each won election twice on separate ballots to their respective offices. They are considered as not-so-friendly rivals.
Under the state constitution, Mr. Bauer automatically would succeed Mr. Sanford until the 2010 gubernatorial elections. He said Wednesday he would not seek election in his own right next year if Mr. Sanford departs the scene now.
South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, the former state GOP chairman and a fixture in South Carolina Republican politics, formally declared Tuesday that he would seek the Republican gubernatorial nomination.
Mr. Sanford, considered a likely 2012 Republican presidential nomination candidate until his temporary disappearance in June and the revelation of his affair, told the assembled press corps Wednesday, “I was unfaithful to my wife … and when confronted with it, I laid my cards on the table.”
In fact, at first he tried to keep the affair secret and in a desultory live televised statement to the press admitted his infidelity but not to possible abuse of taxpayer money to finance trips to see his mistress.
He also accused other officeholders of wrongdoing, saying members of the state General Assembly abused state regulations and taxpayer trust by “flying business class.”