Opinion

Sanford targets Republicans

Some South Carolinians may wonder why Gov. Mark Sanford has such a hard time getting along with members of the General Assembly. If so, this might be instructive:

Next month, Sanford and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will attend a string of events across the state to raise money to help defeat Republican lawmakers Sanford considers unfriendly to his agenda.

Money from the fundraisers will go to Reform SC, launched last spring with $12,000 Sanford had left over from his successful re-election campaign. Reform SC has bought radio time to criticize state spending and serves as a platform for a variety of conservative causes near and dear to the governor's heart.

But the idea of a Republican governor going to great lengths to raise money to defeat Republican lawmakers is odd, to say the least. House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, one of those who has not always seen eye-to-eye with Sanford, thinks that going after Republican incumbents could backfire on him.

"It's like he's hitting people in the face and then saying, 'Now that I have your attention, this is what I want you to do for me, please.' It doesn't work like that," Harrell said. "This notion of, 'I'll just beat everybody and replace them with my people' flies in the face of local districts deciding who they want. I think voters will resent it."

Republicans hold all but one of nine statewide offices. They also hold comfortable majorities in both the House and Senate.

If a Republican governor can't get things done in one of the reddest of the red states, there's a good chance the problem lies with the governor, not the Legislature. If Sanford would spend more time courting leaders in the House and Senate, focusing on a few legislative priorities and working to get them passed, he might have better luck than trying to overthrow the Legislature.

But don't hold your breath.

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