Mark, Not Jim
Wednesday, December 20, 2006 :::
Jim Gilmore steps into the news void before Christmas, announces a presidential exploratory committee, and a dozen Virginia blog posts bloom.
Well. Settle down, folks. Jim Gilmore will not be the nominee. But if the GOP is still looking for someone who is actually interesting, and (dare I say it?) even a bit of a libertarian, then they ought to consider Mark Sanford:
Unlike most Republican governors who either pushed their state parties to the left or simply acquiesced to tax or spending increases passed by legislatures of either party, Mr. Sanford has battled profligate Republicans at every turn.
When the state House overrode all but one of his 106 spending line-item vetoes in 2004, Mr. Sanford stormed the Capitol the next morning with a piglet under each arm. Red-faced Republicans squealed, but voters loved the bold move. Realizing they couldn't be quite as wasteful as their counterparts, the Senate sustained seven of the vetoes — but still overrode 99.
Mr. Sanford has been rankling fellow Republicans long before arriving in Columbia. As a congressman from 1995-2001, Republican leadership knew that he was beyond their control. In 1999, he and then-Rep. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, used parliamentary procedures to save taxpayers a fortune. The farm spending bill came to the floor with an "open rule" — meaning any germane amendments could be offered. Messrs. Sanford and Coburn together drafted 121 fat-trimming amendments, and after trudging through just a few dozen of them, House leadership pulled the entire bill. It was only reintroduced after $1 billion had been carved out.
Sanford has a reputation in Columbia as being aloof and arrogant. I found him to be engaging and personable. And even more, he has a quality that the overwhelming majority of the political class lacks: Principles.
Sanford has made it fairly clear he does not wish to run. And if he did, the odds would be stacked firmly against him. However, he's overcome similar obstacles before -- in 1994, when he rose from obscurity to beat the GOP establishment's favorite (and went on to beat a Democrat whose campaign was run by a friend of Mrs. Leahy) and again in 2002, when he won the GOP primary over other establishment candidates and then went on to beat an incumbent Democrat.
Could Sanford be the one? I've always thought so.
::: posted by Norman Leahy at 12/20/2006