André Bauer: A Legacy of Working Hard and Making a Difference
For years, Andre Bauer held a reputation as the state’s hardest-working public official.
It was his trademark tireless work ethic that, in 2003, propelled him to the office of Lieutenant Governor… making him the youngest Lieutenant Governor in the entire nation.
Elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1996, Bauer soon became known for his dogged determination for protecting the taxpayers – particularly senior citizens. In 1998, he was re-elected with the largest vote total in the state. While serving in the House of Representatives, he was elected Secretary/Treasurer of the Freshman Caucus and elected 2nd Vice Chairman of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in 1997 then in 1998, Bauer was elected 1st Vice Chairman.
Because of his strong leadership and vigorous campaigning ability, Bauer was called upon by Republican Party leaders to run for State Senate in a rural district which had never been held by a Republican. The state’s Republican Party was reeling from the unexpected loss of the Governorship and a number of other losses in the 1998 General Election, and feared another Democrat win in the special senate election. But Bauer stunned the state’s political establishment by completely overwhelming his opponent, a heavily-favored, highly-popular former Democrat senator who had given up the same seat eight years earlier. When the votes were counted, Bauer had shattered the state’s previous special election vote total of 6,500 votes by earning over 9,000 votes on his way to a landslide upset victory, and, in the process, regaining the political momentum for the state’s entire Republican party.
In 1999, André Bauer was elected to the South Carolina State Senate. He was overwhelmingly re-elected in the 2000 general election. Upon his election to the Senate, Bauer sold his wholesale business to devote full time to public service.
Even though he only served three years in both the House and Senate, his impact there is still being felt, thanks to some of the legislation he successfully passed. His first piece of legislation, authored the day after he was elected in November 1996, gave senior citizens and working people the right to vote in advance of elections by absentee ballot, which had not been permitted prior to Bauer’s legislation. Bauer had witnessed workers being forced to stand in lines as long as three hours -- costing them and their employers’ time and money. Since Bauer’s proposal became law, hundreds of thousands of working people and senior citizens have been able to vote early by absentee ballot to avoid long lines on Election Day. Bauer also authored legislation setting aside a portion of each Veteran’s Day to teach high school students about the Constitution of the United States, in an effort to inspire greater patriotism and a better understanding of the reason we honor our veterans.
At age 32, Bauer entered the Republican race for Lt. Governor, challenging two senior members of the legislature. After finishing in second place, Bauer rallied to win the runoff election, and went on to handily defeat the Democrat nominee in November.
On January 14, 2003, Bauer was sworn in as South Carolina's Lieutenant Governor. Although the position of Lt. Governor in South Carolina is paid a part time salary, Bauer devoted himself to the job full-time, regularly working 60-80 hour weeks. In one instance, he refused to accept pay in order to help balance the budget of his office. When Bauer took over as Lt. Governor in the middle of the 2003 fiscal year, his office was already facing a budget shortfall. Not only did Bauer bring in unpaid volunteers to help the office run smoothly, but he also gave up his own salary for two-and-a-half months to keep the office afloat!
As Presiding Officer of the Senate, André Bauer’s carefully-researched rulings blocked more than $2 billion dollars in new taxes, staying true to his conservative values while looking out for the best interests of all South Carolinians.
For two years in a row, André Bauer cast the deciding vote in the Senate to break a tie in favor of lower property taxes, and kept property tax reform alive, drastically lowering property taxes for South Carolina homeowners.
Bauer was the first to propose many of the common-sense ideas which were adopted by the legislature and governor to shorten the lines at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
In July of 2004, based on Bauer’s noted advocacy for the state’s aging population. the Lieutenant Governor's office was given oversight of the State Bureau of Senior Services, which later became the Lieutenant Governor's Office on Aging. The move was designed to improve needed services to South Carolina’s growing senior population while improving accountability in that office.
Under Bauer's leadership, the Office on Aging became a one-stop shop for all seniors who have needed help cutting through federal and state governmental “red tape.”
Bauer won high marks for his service as Lt. Governor and used the historically ceremonial post to score a number of major accomplishments. His cost-cutting efforts were, not surprisingly, generally opposed by many Columbia insiders -- including many lobbyists and special-interests.
Even before becoming Lieutenant Governor, Bauer’s diligence on matters of constituent service earned him a reputation as "South Carolina’s hardest-working legislator." As Lt. Governor, Bauer extended his passion for helping people to the entire state, making the Lt. Governor’s office the constituent service headquarters of South Carolina.
Bauer went on to score yet another upset victory in November 2006. He efforts where then focused on cutting taxes and reducing the cost of government.
Bauer is pleased with his record of service saying, "Whether that service continues in the United States Congress or as a private citizen, I consider myself blessed and will continue to do my best for this state and its great people."