An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled the name of James Guth, a political scientist at Furman University. This version has been corrected.
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Bauer, Sanford's Lieutenant Governor in South Carolina, Draws New Attention
Bauer said that it is Sanford's prerogative whether to resign. "It's better for me to sit back and not play a role in his decision-making process," he said. But he added: "It's a dark shadow over our state. Our state needs leadership more now than ever."
Bauer has a lot to gain should Sanford step down. With Sanford term-limited out of office in 18 months, Bauer is among several Republican heavyweights seeking the party's 2010 gubernatorial nomination and could enter the primary election with the trappings of incumbency.
Since Sanford's confession last week, Bauer said, factions of the state's GOP establishment have tried to tar Bauer's reputation.
"It's sad that politics plays out that way," Bauer said. "This isn't about an election that's 18 months from now. It's about if Governor Sanford should resign, who should fill his place?"
Bauer, 40, has made a career of running against South Carolina's establishment -- and winning. Elected to the state legislature at age 26, he became known as an ambitious politician, rising quickly and winning the state's No. 2 position in 2002.
Yet as lieutenant governor, he has become known as much for his personal behavior as for his political record. In 2003, he was charged with driving 60 mph and running two red lights in downtown Columbia. When pulled over, Bauer was so aggressive that a police officer pulled a gun on him.
In 2006, Bauer was stopped by a state trooper who clocked him driving 101 mph on an interstate highway. He used his state-issued radio to tell the officer he was "S.C. 2" -- the code for lieutenant governor -- and was not ticketed. Then, weeks later, Bauer was injured when the single-engine airplane he was piloting crashed and burned.
"He had all of that in his first term and yet managed to get reelected, so that tells you something about what a skilled politician he is," said Carol Fowler, chairwoman of the South Carolina Democratic Party.
Indeed, Bauer defeated older and more established candidates by appealing to grass-roots voters. "The old joke was that he appeals to little old ladies in the Republican Party," Guth said, adding that his image is that of "a devil-may-care bachelor."
Over the years, Bauer's romantic life has stirred rumors, the latest bubbling up in recent days. In an interview Monday with the State, a Columbia newspaper, Bauer voluntarily brought up the subject of his sexual orientation. "Is André Bauer gay? That is now the story," the lieutenant governor was quoted as saying, adding his answer: "One word, two letters. 'No.' Let's go ahead and dispel that now."
One of Bauer's political advisers said "all the knives and guns are out for André," with "political mafias" fanning inaccurate rumors.
"You see this very well orchestrated and coordinated attack coming from potential opponents in 2010 and the governor's office aimed at him," said the adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "André didn't fly to Argentina. He didn't misuse taxpayer's money. . . . André's just there."