COLUMBIA -- Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer knows he's a controversial figure who has made plenty of public missteps, but the two-term Republican wants to be remembered as a hardworking advocate for South Carolina's senior citizens. A 41-year-old self-described workaholic, Bauer is keeping a packed schedule until the end of his term, meeting with constituents and business leaders, handing out winter blankets to seniors and hosting a holiday drop-in. Following his unsuccessful bid for governor, Bauer said he will return to his business roots, travel with friends and keep raising money for his nonprofit that provides blankets in the winter and fans in the summer. After consecutive terms in the South Carolina House and Senate before becoming lieutenant governor, he says he's unsure if he'll seek office again. "Fourteen years is a long time. It's almost a fourth of my life," said Bauer, who became the nation's youngest lieutenant governor in 2003. "I wouldn't rule out something else, but I'm not on a mission to go find something." Over his tenure, Bauer's most proud of taking over the Office on Aging in July 2004 after he requested more responsibilities. He sees the role as the seniors' chief spokesman, cheerleader and lobbyist. The former marathoner and health enthusiast has traveled the state encouraging seniors to exercise and eat right and worked with legislators to win approval of bills that help seniors. He counts among his successes programs that added 18 doctors statewide who specialize in caring for elderly patients and increased the number of ombudsmen for seniors in long-term care. He also lobbied lawmakers to secure $2.9 million annually for home-delivered meals that help seniors live independently, though funding was cut this year. "I think he's been very energetic all the way around in promoting seniors in South Carolina," said Tom Lloyd of West Columbia past speaker of the state's Silver-Haired Legislature. "I think he's done a tremendous job." Critics accuse Bauer of using the office to appeal to a reliable voting bloc, but he said he embraced the role because of his closeness with his grandparents, with whom the child of divorce spent many of his early years. A lone photo on his desk shows his grandfather sitting in Bauer's Statehouse office chair. "I saw the progression of having to take the car keys, having to put them in a facility because they couldn't take care of themselves, one of them getting dementia," said Bauer, whose last grandparent died a year ago at 93. "It was easy for me to relate." Bauer notes he made dozens of economic development trips, to 22 countries, paying his own way. But he recognizes many will remember him instead for his headline-grabbing mishaps. In 2003, a police officer stopped him for speeding and running red lights in downtown Columbia. In 2006, it was reported that Bauer was twice stopped for speeding, but not ticketed, despite once going 101 mph in a 70 mph zone on Interstate 77. Then one month before the June 2006 primary, his single-engine plane crashed and burst into flames shortly after takeoff from an airstrip near Blacksburg, injuring him and his passenger. A maintenance company that overhauled the engine was later fined. "He'll certainly be remembered for controversy -- all of the driving incidents -- and as somebody who made amazing comebacks in elections where he was simply written off," said Scott Huffmon, Winthrop University political scientist, calling Bauer a "tenacious campaigner." Bauer's strained relationship with Gov. Mark Sanford was well chronicled, as the Republican governor failed to communicate with Bauer before famously disappearing to Argentina to see his mistress in June 2009. With some Republicans reluctant to seek Sanford's resignation or impeachment because they didn't want to give Bauer a head start in the governor's race, Bauer offered not to run in 2010 if Sanford would step down. Sanford fired back that he would not be "railroaded" out of office. Bauer did run. But he hit campaign turbulence when it was reported that during a town hall meeting, he drew a comparison between "feeding stray animals" and doling out government assistance to the poor. With Democrats calling for an apology, Bauer agreed he used a badly phrased metaphor in his speech, but reiterated that the "culture of dependency" created by welfare and various assistance programs must change. And he tried to draw a distinction between people down on their luck who need help -- and the lazy. Nearly a year later, he insists he doesn't regret his statements, saying he broached topics nobody wanted to address. And he doubts they resulted in his fourth-place finish in the Republican primary. "Whether they want to face it or not, we cannot finance the different social programs they have in this country anymore," Bauer said. For him, such issues are deeply personal. He recounts his Depression-era grandparents driving to three different grocery stores in a day to load up on the specials, not turning on the heat or air conditioning to save money and how he himself worked his way through college. "I philosophically have a strong belief in the American system in rewarding hard work," Bauer said.