[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/19/art.sanfordbow0719.gi.jpg caption="Two Republican lawmakers told Sanford to resign Tuesday."](CNN) - Two Republican legislators met privately with South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford Tuesday and told him to resign - but the governor rejected their advice.
Rep. Nathan Ballentine - a Sanford ally in the legislature - and Rep. Gerry Simrill met with Sanford in the South Carolina state House for about 40 minutes and warned him that unless he steps down, House Republicans are likely to impeach him.
“Barring some swing of momentum in his favor, I told him the writing is on the wall,” Ballentine told CNN. “I thought there could be a change in scenery and he could put an end to it all, but if he doesn’t, members of the House will take things into their hands.”
House Republicans are meeting this weekend in Myrtle Beach for their annual caucus retreat, and the impeachment matter is likely to dominate the agenda, according to those planning to attend.
Sanford has come under a new round of scrutiny after investigations into his travel expenses revealed that he spent thousands of dollars on business and first class airline tickets for overseas flights, and used state aircraft for personal and political travel. Those probes were prompted by Sanford’s disclosure in June that he had an affair with an Argentine woman.
Members of the House Judiciary Committee told CNN there are enough votes on the committee to send an impeachment motion to the floor of the House when the legislative session begins in January.
“I would be surprised if impeachment articles weren’t being drafted by someone,” said Rep. Jim Harrison, the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
But Ballentine said the governor rejected the idea of resigning instead of facing impeachment - even with the message coming from a friend.
“I think he wants people to sit back take a deep breath and see what other information is out there,” Ballentine said.
“I’m tired of the distraction, honestly,” Ballentine continued. “We need to be focusing on stuff that’s important to everyday folks, and unless there is a change in the situation, we are going to be distracted for the next 16 months.”
But, Ballentine said of the governor: “He’s a fighter. You got to admire that.”
Sanford’s office said the governor is ready to get back to work.
“We wouldn't presume to guess what political detractors or foes, or for that matter the House Judiciary Committee, may or may not decide to do this next year, but we do know that there are real issues facing South Carolina tied to economic development, job creation, restructuring and spending - and we're committed to working on these with the Legislature over the weeks and months ahead,” said Sanford spokesman Ben Fox.