Philip Klein pointed out that Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina seemed to have disappeared. A bit odd, to put it mildly, for a man who’s been in the national spotlight and is seen as a serious conservative contender for the presidency in 2012.
But he’s been found, kind of. His staff says that he is busy hiking the Appalachian Trail. Reports the Wall Street Journal:
After sparking a four-day mystery about his whereabouts, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford’s spokesman said the governor had been hiking along the Appalachian Trail.
Until late Monday night, Mr. Sanford’s whereabouts hadn’t been revealed since Thursday, when he took off in a sport-utility vehicle normally driven by a bodyguard, turned off his mobile phone and stopped communicating with his office, family and close political allies. Mr. Sanford has been viewed as a likely contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
On Monday, South Carolina elected leaders had considered temporarily transferring the governor’s power to another state official, according to people familiar with the situation. Officials decided against the move after being told by aides to the governor that they knew Mr. Sanford’s location.
In a statement Monday night, the governor’s spokesman, Joel Sawyer, said Mr. Sanford “is hiking along the Appalachian Trail. I apologize for taking so long to send this update, and was waiting to see if a more definitive idea of what part of the trail he was on before we did so.” But Mr. Sawyer said he hadn’t received an update from the governor Monday.
Mr. Sawyer earlier Monday had said his office knew how to reach the governor, if needed, but declined to reveal where he was. Mr. Sawyer said at the time that the governor was taking time to “recharge” and “to work on a couple of projects that have fallen by the wayside.”
The state’s top attorneys spent Monday researching state laws, which are ambiguous, about whether an extended or unexplained absence can trigger the temporary replacement of the governor or transfer of authority to Lt. Gov. André Bauer. Both men are Republicans.
Mr. Sanford’s absence follows a bruising battle with Obama administration officials and with Mr. Sanford’s opponents in the state over $700 million in federal stimulus funds he refused to accept, despite rising unemployment and steep funding shortages in South Carolina. Mr. Sanford argued that taking the money would be bad fiscal policy, and said he would refuse to apply for the cash unless the state used an equal amount to pay down its debt.
Mr. Sawyer, the governor’s spokesman, said in his statement late Monday: “I want to emphasize that this isn’t something that either staff or [First lady Jenny Sanford] is concerned about. As we said earlier today, it isn’t unusual for the governor to be out of pocket for several days after the legislative session. We knew he would be difficult to reach, and that he would be checking in infrequently. Given the media attention this has generated, we’ll obviously update you once we have some more specifics to pass along.”
Assuming there’s nothing more here, it still is a strange story. But I hope that’s all there is, since Gov. Sanford is one of the brighter lights in today’s political firmament.
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