Sanford discusses term, legacy in hour-long interview

By Jody Barr - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - With 37 days left in his term, outgoing Governor Mark Sanford is looking back over the past eight years of his administration.

Sanford talked about taking his fight for South Carolina taxpayers to Columbia. The governor also talked about June 2009, what he calls a turning point in his administration -- a point that also ripped apart his personal life.

The interview lasted nearly an hour as Sanford wanted to set the record straight about his two-term governorship.

Sanford defeated incumbent Jim Hodges in 2002, winning by 65,000 votes. "They wanted to change the way things were done in Columbia," he recalled. "They wanted greater focus on their pocketbook and their wallet and the way money was spent in Columbia."

Sanford would spend the next eight years fighting with the General Assembly over the state's $5 billion budget. The fights would come to define Sanford's administration, and further separate the Republican governor from many in his own party.

That was until last summer, when Sanford admitted to an extramarital affair with a woman from Argentina.

Ignoring calls for his resignation, Sanford instead plowed on. The 2010 legislative session was Sanford's most successful, with lawmakers sustaining a record number of vetoes, and approving Sanford's plans to overhaul the state's employment security commission.

The governor says the affair changed everything. "I think that a lot of people at times would push against certain things based on their fear that my political star was climbing," he said. "If they did that it would help me get to wherever it was they thought I was going."

"What became abundantly clear was the supposed stars on the rainbow weren't there and I think we were able to debate the issue at hand," said Sanford. :I was less the issue, and the issue was more the issue."

Sanford also talked with us about his achievements, the 2004 pig incident inside the State House, and the future of the Tea Party movement and what Sanford says that'll do for the way lawmakers spend your tax dollars in the future.

We'll have a two-part series on our interview with the governor starting Tuesday at 6:00pm.

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