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PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2009 8:36 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2007 11:13 pm
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Location: Atlanta, GA
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Morning News
Published: October 11, 2009

Lt. Gov. André Bauer took the extraordinary step of promising to remove himself from the 2010 gubernatorial campaign if Gov. Mark Sanford resigned by this week.

Bauer’s offer was greeted with mixed reviews. Some saw it as self-serving, while others thought it was honorable. On one hand, Sanford’s decision to step down would have moved Bauer into the state’s top office. On the other, it would have saved the state from months of heartache over Sanford and would have allowed Bauer to avoid the political fray of a campaign next year.

The Republican, 40, wants to be South Carolina’s governor more than any candidate we’ve seen early in the 2010 election season. He’s enthusiastic, full of ideas and raring to go.

Barring a last-second change of heart, Sanford isn’t going away unless he’s impeached. That means Bauer will make his candidacy formal later this month.

The Sanford distraction aside, Bauer should not have to apologize for his zeal to be governor. He’s qualified and ready for the job if voters pick him.

We’re not saying by any means we’re ready to endorse Bauer over the other four candidates, Attorney General Henry McMaster, state Rep. Nikki Haley, state Sen. Larry Grooms and U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, in the GOP primary. We are saying he deserves to be part of the process without hesitation.

Bauer met with the Morning News Editorial Board last week, and his strengths were apparent. He’s smart. He’s articulate. He backs his positions with details. He’s rolled up his sleeves and discovered how the other half lives in South Carolina. He understands the economy and education.

As the nation’s youngest lieutenant governor, Bauer has proven the office is more than a part-time afterthought. He works well with the GOP-controlled legislature. He has gone to bat for senior citizens, for example, and he’s been influential in pushing for lower taxes. He is part of a statewide effort to provide 46,000 shoes to underprivileged children.

That does not mean his positions on the issues are all right. It does not mean questions about his personal decisions will go away. It simply means we are ready for him to join the campaign full time to elevate issues and question his opponents on their stances.

Bauer’s vulnerability will come on issues of judgment. They are his obvious weaknesses. Voters have scratched their head about his 2006 plane crash and driving record.
Bauer was the pilot in a plane that crashed and injured him three years ago. The National Transportation Safety Board ruled it was his fault. A Spartanburg flight instructor said, “He used very poor judgment. I hope he doesn’t fly anymore. He gives aviation a bad name.”

Bauer has been caught multiple times for speeding. In 2006, troopers found him going more than 100 mph on Interstate 77. When Bauer stopped his car, a state trooper pulled alongside, saw it was Bauer and waved him on. No ticket or warning was issued.

Those issues should take a back seat if Bauer addresses his previous missteps early. Sanford’s conduct in office, the economy and education will be the top three issues.

“The governor in this state has lots of power,” Bauer said. “We need to elect someone who knows how to use it.”

Bauer has vowed to outwork other candidates “10 to 1.” If he does, he might be the nominee. Much of his success will depend on how effectively he markets himself in television commercials and how often he attacks other candidates.

“Even if I met 1,000 people a day for the next 300 days, I would have met only 300,000 people,” Bauer said. “South Carolina has more than 4 million people. I have to get my message across that I am the most knowledgeable and best prepared to be governor.”

Regardless of whether he’s the voters’ choice, Bauer will engage them and move them to make a decision. His personality will bring excitement, and perhaps unpredictability, to the campaign.

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