So who knew the Appalachian Trail stretched that far south?
Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina arrived at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport this morning, debarking from a plane just in from Buenos Aires in Argentina.
His staff had said he’d been on a domestic hike to clear his head, but the South Carolina governor had left a trail of clues indicating this wasn’t actually the case. The State — the newspaper of record in the state capital — summarized the breadcrumbs this morning:
[Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer] admitted staffers still did not know the governor’s location. Sanford has been out of touch with staffers and family since leaving his security detail and driving off in a State Law Enforcement Division SUV on Thursday. The vehicle was spotted late Tuesday night at Columbia Metropolitan Airport, according to CNN.
— A mobile phone tower picked up his last known location near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Thursday, according to a source familiar with the situation.
— Greenville television station WYFF reported Tuesday night that sources had reported seeing Sanford boarding a plane at the airport.
Sawyer insisted the governor was hiking. “It’s wrong,” he said of WYFF’s story.
Many are writing about the latest fizzle of a potential 2012 GOP candidate for president — predecessors include Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin, or so the thinking goes.
This just went up on MSNBC’s First Read:
Our question: Who goes to one of the world’s most romantic cities in the world alone? That’s going to be the question that nags at many folks following the Sanford story. And since there have been misleading statements for the last three days on this issue, who is going to believe the full story from Sanford now? Don’t cry for me, Argentina…
At the Washington Post, The Fix attempts a kinder approach, and counsels against premature judgments:
In short, it depends on what happens next. Sanford will return to the state today and will almost certainly be pressed by the local media to present his side of the story.
Given that Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has alleged that Sanford’s staff misled him about the governor’s whereabouts, it’s hard to imagine that Sanford will be able to get away without either making a statement or holding a press conference to answer questions.
“He’s a good man with a successful career in public service who deserves to present his explanation of this before people jump to conclusions,” said Charlie Black, a Republican strategist and senior adviser to Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid.
Congressional Quarterly says Democrats are feeling quite optimistic about Georgia:
The Democratic Governors Association in a fund-raising e-mail Tuesday highlighted Florida, Alaska, Georgia and Minnesota as 2010 takeover opportunities.
“We know we can take back the governor’s mansion in every one of these states. But these are historically Republican seats, and in this crucial election, we won’t win them without a fight,” DGA National Political Director Ray Glendening wrote in the fundraising pitch.
Three of the races are open seat contests and in the fourth, Alaska Republican Gov. Sarah Palin has yet to confirm her intention to seek re-election.
CQ says it will continue to list Georgia as “leans Republican.” Former Gov. Roy Barnes led the Democratic field in a Rasmussen Reports poll released this week.
The same outfit declared that Republican John Oxendine holds a “commanding” lead over his rivals, with the support of 35 percent of those polled. The others trailed 20 points and more behind, with Secretary of State Karen Handel at 11 percent; U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal at 10 percent; state Sen. Eric Johnson of Savannah at 3 percent; state Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton at 2 percent; and states rightist Ray McBerry at 1 percent.
If DuBose Porter is channeling the come-from-behind performance of Creigh Deeds of Virginia in his Democratic primary race for governor, Attorney General Thurbert Baker may have something of a parallel in Alabama.
As he embarks on his bid to become the first African-American governor of a Deep South state since Reconstruction, Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) is meeting stiff resistance from an unlikely source: key members of Alabama’s Democratic establishment.
Alabama Democratic Conference Chairman Joe Reed and Alabama Education Association Executive Secretary Paul Hubbert confirmed … this week that they had been holding meetings with potential Democratic primary challengers to Davis, a four-term congressman who is widely regarded as the leading contender for his party’s nomination.
While you ponder the above, consider these items found while perusing this morning’s ajc.com:
Georgia World Congress Center grapples with rising deficits. Barney Frank condemns effort in Congress to revive the F-22. Two DeKalb educators may face disciplinary action over fudged tests. School “choice” likely to be spotty. Gunmen hold up another student near Tech. Ex-Grady CEOs in court over dueling lawsuits. Atlanta’s legendary Clermont Hotel scrambles to avoid foreclosure. Ethics panel: PACs can’t be used to pass along campaign funds. Georgia Supreme Court nominees include a mix of legal expertise.
Your Luckovich fix. Shelly Lakly says saving our forests will reduce global warming. Jim Wooten thinks the South (mostly) remains in bondage. Jay Bookman ponders a shrinking number of Southern Baptists.
From elsewhere in Georgia:
ABC: Perdue cool toward special session. InsiderAdvantage: Positions hardening over DOT power-sharing. Augusta Chronicle: Barry Fleming withdraws name from Georgia Supreme Court justice consideration.
WSJ: Military command Is created for cyber security. NYT: Obama will send envoy to Syria, officials say. WP: Most want health care reform, but fear its side effects, poll says.
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