Gov. Mark Sanford had trouble casting his vote Tuesday morning, but a majority of voters across South Carolina had no problem giving him a second term.
Sanford defeated Democratic challenger Tommy Moore by a 54-46 margin, according to unofficial results. He proclaimed his win ?an incredible mandate on staying the course for change in South Carolina.?
Sanford also said the campaign likely will be his last. ?You never say never in the world of politics, but my point had been, look it?s a long run, a most interesting run for me, Jennie and the boys. You never say never, but unless a meteor hits you or something strange comes your way, yes, this is the end of the road.?
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Sanford?s apparent margin of victory didn?t reflect his dominance in fundraising, and his libertarian leanings caused a rift in his GOP base, some of which broke off and backed Moore.
Moore conceded just before 11 p.m., vowing to continue to protect public education, ?till my last day.?
Sanford supporters hope a second term will give fresh momentum to the governor?s efforts to change state government, particularly by reducing the number of constitutional officers and eliminating the powerful Budget and Control Board.
He began his push for those reforms four years ago and has made little progress toward them with state lawmakers. Still he noted the state?s most recent two-term governors didn?t score their greatest achievement until their seventh year. ?You?ve got to plow the field before you plant it, and you?ve got to plant it before you harvest it,? Sanford said recently, echoing advice he got 12 years ago from Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
Moore, a state senator from Aiken, emphasized his modest upbringing, his success as a small businessman and his ability to bring people together. He said Sanford too often tried to solve problems by calling for more gubernatorial power instead of bringing groups together to find a solution. Moore?s campaign was slowed by a lack of cash; his commercials didn?t begin airing until mid-October.
For Sanford, the preliminary results provided a happy ending to a difficult two-day stretch.
He was forced off the campaign trail Monday after hurting his eyes under bright stage lights and was turned away from voting Tuesday morning at Sullivan?s Island Elementary School because he showed up without a voter registration card and lacked proper identification.
The incident ? which Sanford had to rectify by traveling to North Charleston for a new voter registration card because his driver?s license bore his Columbia address ? was a lead video Tuesday on CNN.com. State Democratic Party Chairman Joe Erwin said it was proof Sanford ?is out-of-touch with the real world and he thinks the rules don?t apply to him.?
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.