S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford was elected the new chairman of the Republican Governors Association on Friday.
Sanford succeeds Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who will now serve as finance chairman. The association has been meeting this week in Miami — and some discussions have revolved around what went wrong for the party on Election Day.
“I think the Republicans have lost their way,” Sanford said in an interview. “I think they campaigned as conservatives and governed in a completely different way and there's a real electoral consequence – as we saw last Tuesday – in not walking the walk.”
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour was selected vice chairman; Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue will head recruitment efforts; and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist will be in charge of the group's annual gala.
Sanford is a 48-year-old former congressman. His second term as governor ends in 2011 and term limits prevent him from running again.
Sanford also has received attention lately for his opposition to the federal financial bailout and his critique of the GOP. None of that points to aspirations to seek higher office, he said.
“My only goal at this particular point is to make it through Friday,” Sanford said.
While Republicans lost the White House and some strength in Congress this month, South Carolina continued its solidly red state track record on Election Day. Voters in the state picked John McCain for president, returned Lindsey Graham to the U.S. Senate and kept the GOP in control of the Legislature.
Changing the perception of the GOP will take both time and action, Sanford said.
Katon Dawson, chairman of the S.C. Republican Party, is campaigning to become the new head of the Republican National Committee.