Mark Sanford's Lt. Gov Offers to Take Over, Says He Won't Run in 2010

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South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's been moping around and dodging investigators ever since he told us he was having an affair. His erstwhile friends haven't been much help; state attorney general Henry McMaster has offered himself as a candidate for the gubernatorial GOP nomination while seeking a probe of Sanford.

And today the Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, Andre Bauer, proposed at a peculiar press conference a remedy: Quit and let me be Governor...

Bauer said quickly that he "hadn't always agreed" with the Governor, then listed his own accomplishments, including "restructuring" the lieutenant governor's office and trying to preserve "stability" during the affair and its aftermath.

"It is in my opinion that the needs of the people of South Carolina cannot be served by the governor of South Carolina," he said, and "distractions" have made it "virtually impossible" to keep things going as they should. Therefore, "I myself will lead by putting the best interests of the people of South Carolina ahead of my own personal and political interests." He "had been planning to announce my candidacy for governor," but would forego that if he could get the job now. (If not, he'll run for governor anyway.)

Bauer said that if Sanford didn't go quietly, he would take the case to the Legislature. He accused unnamed politicians of seeking to preserve the status quo as a political opportunity for themselves.

Much of his statement resembled a campaign speech: Bauer said he would devote the "hardest-working year of my life" to "putting South Carolinians back to work," promoting "educational opportunities," etc. "The work that must be done... cannot be ignored... unemployment at an all-time high and our state budget in real trouble, the needs of the people cannot wait...

"Now's the time for true leadership... that's what the people of South Carolina want as I continue to travel our state."

He said he didn't propose this sooner because he was against "jumping on peiople when they're going through difficult times."

You can follow the Lieutenant Governor's thoughts on his Twitter feed.

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