While increasingly unlikely, House lawmakers could move to impeach Gov. Mark Sanford in one of three ways:
Abandoning his post - The first and strongest charge, according to state Rep. James Harrison, R-Richland, is that Sanford abandoned his duties by leaving the state for five days and having his staff mislead the public and media. The ordeal has tarnished the state and the office of governor, critics say.
An ethics whopper - This path is less likely after 37 ethics charges yielded few surprises. The wild card is Sanford's 2008 trade trip to South America, during which Sanford met his Argentine lover. Sanford repaid the state more than $3,000 for the Argentina portion of the trip. Lawmakers are investigating whether the trade trip was arranged by Sanford as a cover for his tryst.
A tipping point - A third option is lawmakers could conclude that, while no single charge is impeachable, the weight of charges shows a pattern of misconduct. This door likely closed Thursday when lawmakers decided about three-quarters of the ethics charges against Sanford likely were not the "serious misconduct" required for impeachment and removed them from the scope of their inquiry.