Gov. Mark Sanford said Wednesday he won't resign, will fight any attempt at impeachment and believes he may have his best chance next year at pushing for government restructuring.
Sanford also spoke at length about how his life has been simplified with his political future being erased.
"Nobody works harder for redemption than someone who fails," he said. "In many ways, I've never been as focused on the job as I am now."
In an interview with The Greenville News, Sanford argued that his political voice may be heard more now by lawmakers than it was before June, when he shocked the state with his disclosure that he had engaged in a yearlong affair with an Argentine woman.
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That's because, he said, legislators now know Sanford isn't pushing certain causes to reach a higher political office, since his career was ended by the scandal.
"I would argue that I have a greater voice in the General Assembly than I did at the end of the stimulus debate," he said.
Some lawmakers disagreed. Sen. Larry Martin R-Pickens, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, said he has never heard senators discuss Sanford's possible political ambitions as a reason for their opposition to restructuring. He said such an argument belongs in "fantasyland."
"That has about as much merit as the original story of his disappearance in June," Martin said, referring to Sanford's initial story to staffers that he would be hiking on the Appalachian Trail when in fact he planned a secret, five-day trip to Argentina.
In a wide-ranging interview, Sanford also said:
- Any violations of law found by an ongoing State Ethics Commission investigation would be "technical" ones and he will fight any attempt by legislators to use those to oust him from office.
- People are listening to him more now because of the scandal and he wants to "harness that for good."
- He doesn't believe the scandal has damaged his credibility in selling the state to business prospects because businesses care more about the bottom line and the incentive packages.
- The state is working hard at economic development and officials have negotiated on some pending deals "that may or may not happen."
- His resignation or impeachment would be bad for the state because it would mean two government transitions in the 15 months remaining in his term. His effort at staying in office is about what's best for the state, not about what's best for him.
"If I thought it was best for the state to have moved on, I would have left a long time ago," he said.