COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) – One of Mark Sanford's conservative allies in the South Carolina state Senate is now saying the governor should step down.
Republican Larry Grooms, who is also running for governor in 2010, told CNN Tuesday that Sanford "is incapable of leading because of his behavior."
Unlike many of his colleagues in the chamber - most of whom have remained silent on the resignation question - Grooms has been a supporter of Sanford's fiscally conservative agenda in the senate. But Grooms said he told Sanford by phone last Thursday that he thought the governor should resign. Sanford said he disagreed.
"He indicated he believed that his only chance for redemption was to stay in office," Grooms said. "To me that doesn't serve any purpose well. That doesn't serve the people. It's not about him, it's about governing the people of the state."
Another Sanford ally running for governor next year - state Rep. Nikki Haley - said last week that the governor should stay in office because otherwise, Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer would assume the top office. Haley said that would be a step backward for the conservative reform movement in the state.
Bauer is also interested in making a bid for the governorship in 2010. Bauer, in a CNN interview Monday, suggested that he would give up a 2010 gubernatorial bid in exchange for taking over the rest of Sanford's term. Sanford is term limited and can't run for re-election next year.
But Grooms said he isn't yet thinking about the implications of Bauer assuming the governorship. He said his primary concern is that Sanford's actions have made him irrelevant as an executive. "He has given his opponents the opportunity to stop any reform agenda from passing," he said.
"As long as the governor stays in office, we start losing a bit of our advantage over the Democrats in the next election cycle," Grooms said.