Any time a politician who is a national figure with aspirations for the presidency falls, there are people beyond that individual who see their own fortunes rise and fall as a result.
Who are the biggest winners and losers in the strange case of Mark Sanford, whose admission of an extramarital affair followed a five-day disappearance in which he misled his staff to believe he was hiking the Appalachian Trail but was in fact in Buenos Aires visiting his mistress?
Our first thoughts are below, but as the Sanford situation continues to evolve today we reserve the right to revise and extend our list.
Haley Barbour: The Mississippi governor was going to ascend to the chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association in 2010 no matter what Sanford did in Buenos Aires but the South Carolinian’s resignation as chair allows Barbour to get a jump on that job. It also leaves Barbour as the only son of the south seriously considering a run for president in 2012, a not insignificant thing when you consider how much of the Republican party base lives in that region of the country.
The State/Peter Hamby: It would have been very easy to dismiss Sanford’s five day lacunae as nothing more than someone in a stressful job looking for a little peace and quiet. And, it would have been easy to stop asking questions when Sanford’s office put out a statement Monday night making clear that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. But, people like the reporters at the State and CNN’s Peter Hamby didn’t stop there — they pushed to get more information and that information led to the unraveling of the Sanford mystery. Kudos.