COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer said Monday he would be open to a scenario in which he would assume the governorship but not run for the state's top office in 2010 if Governor Mark Sanford decides to resign in the coming weeks.
Bauer said that arrangement would help tamp down some of the political jockeying among other Republicans who are likely to run for governor next year as they decide how to respond to revelations about Sanford's extramarital affair. Other candidates include state Attorney General Henry McMaster, Rep. Gresham Barrett and state Rep. Nikki Haley.
"We are at an impasse now because it's all about 2010 and the next governor's race, and I don't see anyone being an adult," Bauer told CNN in an exclusive interview.
Bauer is one of several Republicans plotting a run for governor, but his rivals worry that a Sanford resignation – which would elevate Bauer to the governorship – might give Bauer an advantage in next year's governor's race because he would be running as an incumbent. Sanford is term limited and is not allowed to run for re-election in 2010.
He said he had discussed the idea of not running in 2010 with GOP leaders in the Senate, many of whom are staunch opponents of Sanford.
"What it would do is it would get the politics out of it," Bauer said. "The people that are so concerned for their own political future about running for governor, would no longer be worried if I came in and became governor, because I would just say. 'You know what? This is bigger than politics. I will go and lead in for the next 18 months and not run for re-election.'"
Rumors are swirling in Columbia that Bauer is working behind-the-scenes with allies in the legislature to force Sanford to resign. Bauer denied any covert efforts to oust the governor and blamed his potential rivals for stirring the pot. "It's amazing how nasty this is getting," Bauer said. "It's a black cloud over South Carolina."
Asked if he had discussed with any legislators the idea of a criminal probe against Sanford, Bauer said that he had one conversation last week with state Sen. Jake Knotts - a Bauer ally - in which Knotts mentioned the possibility of an investigation.
Last Friday, Knotts called for a state law enforcement investigation into Sanford's overseas trip. Bauer said Knotts' demand is "a reasonable request" and said there are "people out there who want answers."
Bauer also pointed out that Attorney General McMaster – one of Bauer's potential gubernatorial rivals – has, in the past, chosen to investigate elected officials. McMaster issued a cautious statement last week, however, saying that an investigation into Sanford may not be warranted.
The New York Times reported Monday that Chris LaCivita, a consultant to Bauer, had e-mailed another GOP consultant asking him to pressure fellow Republicans to help push Sanford out. Bauer said he had not seen the e-mail.
"I have tried to stay about the fray in this," he said. "I have tried to conduct myself as southern gentleman."
Bauer said he had spoken to Sanford by phone a couple days ago. "He told me he thought he would be a better man because of this," Bauer said of his conversation with Sanford.
UPDATE: Rivals to Bauer point out that this isn't the first time he has promised to avoid future campaigning. In 2006, Bauer promised The Greenville News that if were to win re-election in that year's campaign for Lieutenant Governor, he would not seek the governorship in 2010.
Give it up Bauer, he's not going anywhere.
Who cares I am glad I do not live in this state!
Nice distraction and excuses. But the GOP is in trouble not because of moral hypocrisy, but because they have no ideas of their own. Their 'alternate' budget proposal was a 16 page outline with no numbers! NO NUMBERS! On a budget proposal? Their 'alternate' health care plan was a 3 page outline, with no cost estimates whatsoever, and 80% of the plan was just taken near verbatim from the Obama health care plan. If republicans spent a little more time thinking and planning, and less time just whining and parroting the talking points from Rush Limbaugh, they may actually be competitive. Until then, they don't deserve to be listened to!
These political attacks and posturing by extremely ambitious pols is more disgusting than having a governor who made the mistake of falling in love.
This dude needs to resign....no matter what happens...he is an idiot to use public money to go see his mistress................America, wake up....
Sanford should go, and Bauer's a little creep. Ew. I'm so glad I don't live in South Carolina.
No....no compromise.....did he offer one for Clinton back in the day....pack your stuff and hit the road jack!
Why should Sanford care to resign – the state was stupid enough to overrule him and take the porky pig stimulus. If I was him, I would resign and let the state suffer.
You know, if he hadn't left his job hanging for a week, I might have some sympathy for his staying on. But he just walked away, which leaves one to think that he really does not care about SC and his job that much. We already know how he feels about his family responsibilities. Ruled by hormones. What is the matter with men in power? Really. Do you hear these things about powerful women? It really is time to shatter that glass ceiling and get women in the job. Despite PMS and menopause, I really do believe women are more focused on the task at hand and far less likely to indulge in an affair with a married man.
Oh, so one more win for the filandering Governor and 0 for the people of the state of South Carolina. Brilliant.
Bravo Lt. Gov Bauer. However, this common sense approach will never pass the GOP litmus test.
You don't really believe Bauer now do you!
People of South Carolina!!! You are being governed by the porch people from Deliverance!! Make sure you vote them all back in so you can work your way down to 50th in education...
I Bauer become governor of our state and run in 2010 as he would have the right to do so. I am democrat, but would support Bauer for governor.
Gov. Sanford needs to resign......this governor has lied to his wife and the State of SC! And he stood up against the stimulus with the clear understanding that the poor people of SC would suffer the most to please his right-wing buddies!! This man is a hypocrite of the worst kind!! IMPEACH him now..l.......
His infidelity is a private matter to resolve for him and his family only! It should be none of the media's or our business!
Him skipping work (paid for by taxpayers) without warning is a call for disciplining.
Dismissal or resignation? If this is the biggest complaint we have about our current governors then indeed we could sit back and relax. But there are far more sinister and corrupt scandals under the radar out there, and far more waste of your taxpayer money!
Heh, heh...I actually like this idea. The young guy gets a feather in his cap, a star on his resume', then he can lay low for 4 or 8 years while someone else suffers the bad economy years. When he comes back, he can say "I already have experience" and clear the house.
It's a smooth move, and even if it's self-serving, it's also a pretty good solution to the bickering, and cuts down the noise about Sanford, which helps the GOP. Why doesn't Newt rubber stamp this idea and get the deal done?
>>>Compare your average New Yorker to your average person from Texas or Oklahoma, I rest my case!<<<<
You mean like the Branch Davidians or the Timothy McVeighs or the FLDS polygamist ranchers...?
Steve: true leadership? If you give it to me now, i wont ask for it later is not true leadership. It is a back door shot and it figures most bloggers cannot see it.
Fed up with low morals in SC
Did you forget about clinton – he was president!
cheating on your wife does not prevnt you to govern..Ask bill Clinton
It bothers me that people keep saying an "affair" is the problem. The problem is an irresponsible governor who left his post without making arrangements for his absence. The fact that he based his career on his self-righteousness, and is still waving bible passages to excuse his actions, are just repulsive asides.
Is this a Sanford compromise or is it a "Speed Racer" Bauer compromise? He seems to have had great difficulty driving the speed limit, hence speed racer!
Kevin B June 29th, 2009 4:14 pm ET
TCM- you come right out of the talk radio handbook. Do have one original idea that hasn't been spoon fed to you by Mr Hannity or Limbaugh?
Don't blame me, you're the one supporting him! Besides, I know that for you liberals using the brain can be taxing...
Not only should Gov. Sanford step down as governor, should needs to be greatfully he is not being arrested. Under SC law adultery is a misdemeanor and punishable by a $500 fine and a year in jail. Under the current law is a crime under the criminal code and therefore an arrestable offense not matter where the offense took place. Now having said that, this law has been on the books since the 1800's and not used I think since 1905. I also feel that it would be a waste time and resource to try and prosecute such a case, but investigating SC law of "Misconduct in Office" is not. Under todays standard of law, it mostly not stand up in a Supreme Court challenge. I fell that it affair is his business to handle, but the behavior he displayed last week when it can to his duties as Governor of this state are in question and shoulld be dealth with on a legislative level.