After nearly four hours of discussion Monday evening, leaders of the South Carolina Republican Party voted to censure Gov. Mark Sanford, reprimanding him for secretly leaving the state to visit his lover in Argentina.
While the vote reveals how the state's GOP leadership feels about the scandal, it has no practical effect on whether the governor remains in office.
"The events of the past two weeks have been as divisive as they have been disappointing for Republicans," S.C. Republican Party chairman Karen Floyd said late Monday in a prepared statement. "But today has brought a large measure of resolution to a sad chapter in our state party's history. Republicans came together to speak with a unified voice, and now is the time for healing.
"We are now united and we pledge to focus our energy and efforts on finding conservative solutions to the challenges facing South Carolina," the statement read.
The GOP's executive committee options were:
• Ask the governor to resign
• Reprimand the governor in a formal, nonbinding resolution
• Do nothing
• Or support the governor
Twenty-two committee members voted for a reprimand, 10 called for his resignation, while nine voted to support the governor.
The governor's spokesman, Joel Sawyer, reiterated Monday night after the vote that the governor will stay on.
"The governor fully appreciates the party's position and he intends to work diligently to earn back its trust," Sawyer said.
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