Gov. Mark Sanford has no plans to get involved in the race to follow the term-limited Republican, nor does he plan to use his $1.1 million campaign fund to support candidates or issues.
But Sanford's shadow is likely to influence the June 8 Republican primary and November's general election, political professionals said.
One year ago, Sanford filed his eventually unsuccessful lawsuit to prevent lawmakers from spending $700 million in federal stimulus money. Sanford has been a political pariah since his admission of an extra-marital affair last June. But polls show the governor's ideas are still popular even if his personal failings mean Sanford's job-approval ratings are lower.
"Is he toxic?" said Gary Karr, spokesman for former governor David Beasley and now with Edelman Public Relations in Washington, D.C. "No, but there's as much downside as upside."
A Rasmussen Reports poll released last week showed 62 percent of likely Republican primary voters approved of Sanford's performance.
Sanford has said it was important to him to get his goals across "the finish line" after he leaves office, and voters still like his ideas.