Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Appalachia to Argentina: Can Things Get Any Worse for the GOP?

OK, so this isn't about Tar Heel Politics, but as it is from my homestate, I have to comment on the latest news about Gov. Sanford's admission of an affair with someone in Argentina.

Granted, it was hard to watch the rambling conference at first, but you could tell that some big shoe was going to drop--and did it ever. Sanford, a notorious pol who would challenge anyone who disagreed with his principles (and yes, he did have principles, whether you agree with them or not), especially those in his own party. Now, with the affair admission, Sanford has, like Ensign before him just a few weeks ago, left the GOP asking "who is going to be left in 2012?"

Sanford was seen as a darling of the fiscal conservatives, battling against the stimulus package with the principle that the federal stimulus monies would do more damage than letting the economy work itself out (or, paying down the state's debt instead of the mandated requirements). But now that's out the door with his affair. And what else is out the door is, "who's left for the GOP in 2012?"

Even with the race for 2012 already underway (the invisible primary), the GOP is finding itself with a depleted stall of potential candidates to go up against Obama's re-election. My bet is that they will go with someone with little name recognition at this point. Of course, Tim Pawlenty and Sarah Palin are still standing, but Palin has such little reach beyond social conservatives that it may just be Pawlenty who is considered the lead horse for the race. An early indication will be 2010's mid-term elections and how much Pawlenty, Palin, and others as yet to be named will be out there trying to revitalize the damaged GOP brand. But one can bet, it won't be Sanford.