Skip to comments.With-It Sanford - The Free-Market South Carolina Governor
Posted on 11/14/2004 6:53:33 PM PST by gab1279
Article is from June, but quite relevant with the specualtion now turning to possibilities for 2008. Thoroughly enjoyed this one.
COLUMBIA, S.C. For someone who battles big government all day long, Mark Sanford is incredibly relaxed. After locking horns with lawmakers, the Palmetto State's Republican governor spent a recent evening sipping a Bud Light and chatting in a Polo shirt and khakis. As befits this 44-year-old who runs and swims daily, the Dave Matthews Band plays quietly on his sound system.
"We've saved 50 percent on headcount at the Governor's Mansion and 45 percent on operating expenses," Sanford says. Despite insisting that public frugality begin at home for him and South Carolina's First Family, Sanford and his staff know how to make their guests comfortable.
"We're like ducks in a pond," says Andy Marchant, the ante bellum mansion's executive chef, after serving southwestern Caesar salad and swordfish. "Above the water, it's calm and serene. Down below, we're paddling furiously."
Unlike so many Republican governors today, Sanford and his team take limited government seriously. While New York's George Pataki outspends Mario Cuomo, his liberal Democrat predecessor, and Nevada's Kenny Guinn initiates a 5 to 10 percent live-entertainment tax, Sanford promotes the Reaganite, market-friendly principles that distinguished him as a self-limited, three-term U.S. congressman. Sanford aggressively advocated Social Security choice and earned Straight As and the "Taxpayers' Best Friend" honor from the National Taxpayers Union.
Sanford complains that "South Carolina's cost of government is 130 percent of the national average" but crows about successfully restructuring state services and saving taxpayer dollars:
"We made the Department of Motor Vehicles part of the Cabinet," Sanford says. It's now "directly accountable to the governor rather than its own island of government. If it's not working, people tell me." With closer oversight and by offering Internet transactions instead of office visits, average DMV waiting times have fallen from 90 minutes to 15. Letting auto dealers issue new license plates also has helped cut DMV's budget 17 percent.
"One state agency rents vehicles to other agencies," Sanford marvels. "If you just went to Hertz, you could rent for less." The legislature agreed to save $33.78 million by selling 6,000 of the state's 20,000 cars.
Sanford's latest budget increased spending by just 1 percent, compared to the Republican legislature's 6.6 percent proposed hike.
Atop $53 million in assorted tax relief he secured this year, Sanford's $1 billion income-tax cut would slash rates from 7 to 4.75 percent (a 32-percent reduction). The Republican house passed it before Democrats filibustered it in the GOP Senate.
Facing a $155 million deficit this year, Sanford negotiated with legislators and won $139 million in debt repayment. Some allies urged Sanford to declare victory with 90 percent of a loaf. He refused, seeing any deficit as both unconstitutional and a precedent for future deficits. Like being three days pregnant, a splash of red ink is no big deal today. Over time, though, both likely grow into far more urgent situations.
Sanford issued 106 vetoes to close this $16 million gap. The house quickly overrode 105 vetoes. Sanford responded May 27 by walking into the statehouse rotunda with a squealing piglet under each arm. "Wait a minute," he asked in the Charleston Post and Courier. "There is plenty of money for 'pork' projects for individual members' districts, but no way to carve out any savings to pay off the deficit?"
While many legislators and pundits frowned, talk radio hosts loved it. Letters to local newspapers mainly approved. Despite or perhaps because of this, Sanford's approval numbers exceed 70 percent.
"Mark Sanford truly gets it," says Ed McMullen, President of Columbia's free-market South Carolina Policy Council. "He understands that limited government is an objective. He has succeeded in changing the debate."
"His plan to reduce marginal income tax rates by close to one third is one of the most aggressive income tax cut plans in the nation," says Stephen Slivinski, budget-studies director at Washington's libertarian Cato Institute. "Based on that alone, he deserves recognition as one of the best governors in the nation."
With the legislature adjourned, Sanford will spend 2004 building grassroots support for his program and asking voters to elect sympathetic lawmakers. Free-marketeers seeking someone to carry Ronald Reagan's banner in 2008 should keep their eyes on Columbia.
Sanford is praised highly in Joe Scarborough's book (Rome Wasn't Burnt in a Day) and he tells the pig story in full detail...
Another rising political star is Mark Sanford, who left Congress in 2000 to run for governor of South Carolina. Sanford and I were together on most fights against our leadership when they backed down on spending cuts or reform measures. Unlike most politicians I know, Mark Sanford has only become more courageous with his political promotion over the years.
This year the Republican legislature in South Carolina went on a spending spree of record proportions. So Governor Sanford vetoed more than one hundred spending bills in one day. The Republican House and Senate overturned most of those vetoes the next day, prompting a response from their Republican governor. Sanford, who shares my lack of interest at impresssing the political establishment, decided to carry two pigs to the South Carolina House chambers and confront his big-spending Republican legislators.
Sanford named the pigs "Pork" and "Barrel," and paraded them around the GOP House for all the members to see. They were, of course, greatly offended-perhaps it was the droppings left on the House floor courtesy of Pork and Barrel-but Sanford couldn't have cared less. He was more interested in being faithful to South Carolina taxpayers than to a political party.
He was one of the '94 GOP Revolution freshman and held steadfast to his values through his time up there.
With Jeb declaring he's not interested in running, and Rudy being kinda RINO, he is one to watch.
I've heard his name mentioned a couple of times here and there, wonder if he's really interested? Hope he is.
Another good one to watch.
South Carolina PING
My early favorite for '08 - hope they can convince him to run. Our country dearly needs a dose of fiscal conservatism.
I have watched Sanford in the house, run for Gov., and now as Gov. He would be the perfect choice for 2008, but he deals in a truth that most people don' want to hear.
You need to add Governor Bill Owens (CO) and Governor Tim Pawlenty (from the blue state of Minnesota, and needs to win re-election in '06 first).
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Mark Sanford & Son, former LA junk ealers and now Governor of South Carolina says "I'm commin' Louise... open the pearly gates".
It seems you are a fast learner.
Cheney - Heart problems, not interested.
Rumsfeld - Would be an interesting campaigner, but too old.
Powell - Waaaaaay too liberal.
Rice - Maybe. Would appeal to women and blacks, but her stance on the issues is unknown.
Franks - Doesn't seem interested.
Sanford - Maybe, but more of a country clubber than a folksy type.
Jeb - People don't like dynasties.
Perry - Hell no!
Perdue - The Confederate flag is not a national issue.
Riley - Major RINO. Won't be re-elected.
I much appreciate the compliment. :-)
Recently became proud owner of a ping list myself, (Joe S./Scarborough Country Ping List -FReepmail if you want to be added!)
I didn't think about our own gov. (Perry), for some reason, I don't know that he'd step out and throw his hat in the ring for Pres.
He's great, but he seems a little shy for that kind of big run, don't know if he aspires for Pres.
I usually only watch Scarbourough Country because Gutter Van Sistern is unwatchable. I often find Joe to be too soft on his liberal guests and sometimes not well enough informed to refute the BS they spout.
We could do much worse than Sanford in '08.
He needs to get along better with the Republican establishment (corrupt big spenders), or he won't get support for the nomination. Reagan managed with compromise and going directly to the people.
And he's only 44? Younger than I am. So is Tim Pawlenty of MN. Hard to believe in 2009 we could have a president younger than I am for the first time. Makes me feel kind of old. ;)
Any correelation to SC's growing economy with the continuing NAACP boycott?
Thanks. I appreciate the help. I've already been contacted by one senator. It's interesting. A meeting and a handwritten note. But his name is not usually mentioned as one of them interested. I hope he decides to abandon the idea. He has family and I would not want to put them through this.
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