FITSNews Exclusive – Governor’s Top Legislative Staffers Resign July 4, 2007Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.
TWO KEY AIDES LEAVING – ONE MULLING POSSIBLE SENATE BID
FITSNews – July 4, 2007 – S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford is losing his top two legislative advisors, sources tell FITSNews – and one of them may be leaving to mount a GOP primary challenge to sitting Spartanburg Sen. John Hawkins. In other news, try saying “sitting Spartanburg Senator” five times real fast. Betcha’ can’t do it without spitting on yourself.
Anyway, former Spartanburg State Rep. Rita Allison – the possible challenger to the spitting, er sitting Spartanburg Senator – and longtime Sanford aide Jarrett Martin are both departing the Governor’s Office as two of his longest-serving staffers.
Martin, who began his political career driving the governor to and from events during the 2002 campaign, gradually worked his way up the ladder in the Sanford administration over the past five years to assume the role of primary liaison to the S.C. Senate. The former Sewanee offensive lineman is one of the most trusted and well-liked members of the governor’s staff, having earned a tremendous amount of respect at the State House for his poised and professional navigation of Sanford’s thermonuclear relationship with the legislature.
Allison, who started her career with Sanford as a higher education advisor, has been tasked in recent years with driving the governor’s legislative agenda in the South Carolina House. She is also one of the few members of Sanford’s staff who enjoys strong relationships with the General Assembly. Should Allison decide to run against Sen. Hawkins, it would be a formidable threat. She remains extremely popular in the Spartanburg area, where Hawkins narrowly escaped with his seat after a tough-fought GOP primary back in 2004.
Sanford, who has suffered from high staff turnover both as a U.S. Congresman and as governor, now faces the unenviable task of finding replacements for these key positions – a task made much more daunting by the drain of available political talent accompanying the 2008 presidential primary.
Sanford’s Chief-of-Staff Tom Davis, who is universally-regarded as the architect of the governor’s few legislative successes, has already been handling the bulk of high-level negotiations between the administration and the General Assembly. But Davis is also the governor’s closest policy advisor (next to Jenny Sanford, anyway), a key political advisor and the administrative head of the Governor’s Office.
Just how thin Sanford is willing to stretch his chief lieutentant’s portfolio remains to be seen.