Where in the world was Gov. Mark Sanford?

Jun 23, 2009

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford will cut short a hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail and return to deal with a public outcry over his four-day disappearance. Yesterday his staff revealed the Governor had not been heard from since Thursday when he left in a state-owned SUV without a security detail. WFAE's Julie Rose has more on the bizarre situation. It's not uncommon for Governors to take time off. And after the public defeat Sanford suffered at the hands of state lawmakers in his quest to reject stimulus money, his staff says the Governor needed some rest. But Sanford went further than that. He dismissed his security detail and drove off on Thursday. Until yesterday neither his wife nor staff had heard from him or knew how to reach him. Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon says that's very unusual - and unsettling. "I don't think that there are many analogs where a governor goes this far off the grid with as few people knowing about as seems to be the case here," says Huffmon. "I think the greatest concern is the 'What if?' What if there was an emergency? Would we have wasted valuable time trying to find out where the governor was before the line of succession moved and the lieutenant governor stepped up?" That's precisely what led several state legislators to raise the alarm when they heard Sanford was missing yesterday. South Carolina Democratic Party Chairwoman Carol Fowler calls it a leadership crisis, but one she's come to expect of the eccentric governor. "He deserves a little time off I guess," says Fowler. "The legislature in South Carolina last week essentially told him to take a hike, and I guess he took that literally." The governor's spokesman, Joel Sawyer, initially made only vague statements regarding Sanford's whereabouts. Late last night, Governor's spokesman Joel Sawyer released a statement saying Sanford was hiking the Appalachian trail and had warned staffers he would be out of touch for several days. Sawyer says the Governor is "somewhat taken aback by all of the interest this trip has gotten" and plans to return to the office tomorrow.