Tuesday, July 7, 2009

“Should I stay or should I go?” A tale of two Governors and EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Carol Fowler

This classic line from the 1980’s band the Clash has renewed meaning in Republican political circles these days. Prior to the July 3rd, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford was the only one that had to answer that question. Defiant that he wasn’t going to go despite calls from his own State Party Chair to step down. The day before the 4th of July, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin shocked the Republican political establishment with the decision that she should go, and announced she was resigning by the end of the month.

Before the story broke about Sarah Palin announcing her decisions to not run for re-election and pending resignation, I spoke with South Carolina Democratic Party Chair, Carol Fowler, about the situation with Governor Sanford. In response to my question if Governor Sanford had lost the ability to effectively perform his duties as Governor, Carol Fowler said, “He never had that ability. Completely ineffective.” Carol Fowler also admitted that the Governor and South Carolina Republicans could care less about the Democratic opinion regarding Sanford. One thing is clear, there seems to be consensus among South Carolinians in one regard. This has been an embarrassment to the state.

According to an article in Columbia’s The State, Dianne Skripek from Hilton Head, who is organizing a group of South Carolinians urging the Governor to resign, feels that “If he left office, at least we’d get some self-respect back,” said Skripek. “If we continue to allow him to stay, it’s a horrible reflection on us. We have to demand better and expect better.” In my conversation with State Democratic Chair Fowler, she felt that Governor Sanford “is embarrassing himself and needs to resign” but she didn’t think that he would.

Carol Fowler’s instincts seem to have been proven correct. According to Columbia’s The State and CNN.com, the South Carolina Republican Party’s Central Committee deliberated for almost four hours and decided to censure Governor Sanford for his conduct, a move that has never happened with any sitting GOP Governor in South Carolina. Last week, South Carolina State GOP Chair, Karen Floyd, as well as the majority of the state’s GOP leadership and Federal Delegation were calling on Sanford to step down. This decision by the South Carolina GOP seems to put this issue to rest, for now.

Soon to be former Alaska Governor, Sarah Palin, has taken the opposite approach to taking on her critics. On July 3rd, in a rambling and sometimes incoherent press conference, Palin announced she was not running for re-election and was resigning as Alaska’s Governor by the end of July. Depending on who you talk to, from her own office and Lieutenant Governor Parnell which are defending the move, to most Republican commentators and analysts, this is unexpected and has the potential to be the worst move that Sarah Palin has made yet. According to the Anchorage Daily News, Palin states “Especially when all these lawmakers are lining up for office. Their desire would be to clobber the administration left and right so that they can position themselves for office. I'm not going to put Alaskans through that," as the latest reason for why she came to this decision.

This is yet another blow to hopes of a Republican rebirth, or resurgence, at the national level. Both Mark Sanford and Sarah Palin were, and in some ways may still be, regarded as potential Presidential Candidates for 2012. The political battle cry from the party that pushed “traditional family values,” self reliance, and fiscal responsibility, now rings hollow and there is no indication that they are able to run on these issues in the near future. The question that now needs to be answered by the GOP, have they purged all the adulterers and quitters from their ranks?

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