It’s been a rough couple of weeks for potential 2012 GOP candidates. Newt Gingrich was dismissed in Newsweek as good for ideas only. Sarah Palin got into a fight with David Letterman. John Ensign admitted to an affair. And now, in one of the most bizarre stories to come out of politics in a while, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford disappeared on Thursday.
With a state-supplied vehicle.
For four days.
Over Father’s Day weekend.
Or the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), in charge of security detail for the governor.
Although his office supposedly knows where he is now — according to a series of news releases — they’re not telling just where he is. And it still seems pretty weird. It’s one thing to need to take some time to get away from it all. It’s another to abandon your job and your family and turn off your cell phone so you’re completely unreachable, especially when you are responsible for an entire state.
And Republican State Senator Jake Knotts raised the important question of who’s making decisions when a governor goes AWOL in an article in The State.
Knotts, a longtime Sanford critic, said he contacted SLED Chief Reggie Lloyd Saturday after he heard reports the governor could not be reached.
“Chief Lloyd confirmed that my information is legitimate,” Knotts said. “He shared my concerns” about succession of power in Sanford’s absence, the Lexington Republican said. Lloyd could not be reached immediately on Monday.
“I was recently made aware that Governor Sanford has frequently been eluding SLED agents and disappearing at odd times,” Knotts said. Previously, Sanford has not been out of all contact — including with his own office — for this long before, a source, who insisted on anonymity, said.
Knotts said the state’s chief executive should never be unreachable.
“As the head of our state, in the unfortunate event of a state of emergency or homeland security situation, Governor Sanford should be available at all times to the Chief of SLED,” the senator said.
It’s certainly understandable to take some time for rest and relaxation — but it’s best to do that when your staff knows where you are at all times. And it doesn’t exactly leave me with much confidence in Governor Sanford’s future in national politics.