The Wonderful World of South Carolina Politics

South Carolina has had a reputation for bare-knuckle politics for decades, but since Gov. Mark Sanford confessed to an affair with a woman from Argentina last summer, it's been on a roll. The primary season has brought out some of the best the Palmetto State has to offer. Here is a retrospective of South Carolina politics from Sanford to now.

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    Appalachia . . . Argentina . . . Whatever!

    It took a lot to top the Eliot Spitzer and John Edwards sex scandals. But Gov. Mark Sanford hit the top of the charts last June when he confessed to carrying on a torrid love affair with an Argentine mistress.  Adding to the drama and anticipation were the explanations his staff had given for his mysterious absence during the week before his confession -- aides said he could not be contacted because he was hiking along the Appalachian Trail.  But when a reporter caught him returning to the States from South America, he came clean and the bigger picture unfolded.  It wasn't your average politician's fling. Sanford's public confession revealed a deep passion behind the relationship -- and in turn fueled the political fallout. The subsequent year was filled with probes and calls for his resignation, but Sanford, who weathered a divorce from wife Jenny during that period, stayed in office.
    AP
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    Don't Feed the Constituents

    Note to the lieutenant governor -- no matter how much you dislike a policy, comparing your constituents to "stray animals" to make a point will backfire every time.  Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer learned this in January after he compared welfare recipients to hyper-breeding street animals that should not be fed.  The comment came during a town hall meeting in Fountain Inn, S.C.  "My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. ...  "They will reproduce," Bauer said, "especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better."  The remarks set off a firestorm in the Palmetto State. Bauer later said he regretted the remark though he stood by the premise that welfare breeds dependency.
    AP
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    Two Timing ... Two Times?

    Ironically, or fittingly, the Republican primary race for Sanford's seat was marred by allegations of affairs in the final stretch.  State Rep. Nikki Haley, after coming from behind in the polls, was hit in May by the searing claim of a blogger and former communications consultant that he had a relationship with the front-runner. She denied it. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who had endorsed her, also tore into blogger Will Folks for making the claim at such a volatile moment in the campaign.  The out-of-the-woodwork allegations didn't stop there. Shortly afterward a consultant who had been working for Haley opponent Andre Bauer claimed he had a one-night stand too.  Again, Haley denied it. But Bauer kept the scandal alive by challenging Haley to take a lie detector test and then proceeding to take one himself -- he released the results the day before the election and claimed they proved that he had nothing to do with his consultant coming forward.  On Election Day, Haley won the most votes but was forced into a runoff with Rep. Gresham Barrett. The saga continues.
    AP
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    The 'Raghead' Riff

    As a sideshow to the already unhinged gubernatorial race, state Sen. Jake Knotts got himself in a bind for calling state Rep. Nikki Haley a "raghead" in an interview with a local news show a week before the election.  "We've got a raghead in Washington, we don't need a raghead in the Statehouse," he said. It was during an interview with a casual-themed program called Pub Politics.  Haley, whose parents are from India, had a Sikh upbringing but says she is Methodist. Knotts apologized, but a local Republican Party committee later called for him to resign.  Knotts said they won't get their wish.
    SC.gov
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    Mystery Victory

    While the political gurus were eyeing the Republican gubernatorial race in South Carolina, somebody probably should have been watching the Democrats in the U.S. Senate primary.  Somehow, the candidate nobody expected to win ... won.  Alvin Greene, an unemployed Army veteran, pulled out a victory over former state legislator Vic Rawl who, unlike Greene, had actually raised money and campaigned for the seat.  What happened? That was the question state Democrats were asking themselves as they tried, to no avail, to convince Greene to step aside for the November race against Republican Sen. Jim DeMint.  Greene's interviews after the election suggested he had a limited grasp of the policy matters a U.S. senator would be expected to handle. His past felony charge for allegedly showing porn to a college student didn't help his case either. Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., claimed Greene was a "plant."  Greene wants to put all that aside.  "We have to be pro-South Carolina -- not anti-Greene," he said.  Slap that on a campaign sign.
    AP
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