Category Archives: Mark Sanford

What’s Henry McMaster afraid of? Mark Sanford?

McMaster for governor

Several weeks back, I was on an elevator with a Republican attorney who asked me what I though about how Henry McMaster was doing as governor.

As I was mentally crafting a reply — something like I have hopes, and I see the gasoline tax issue as one that will help determine whether the hopes are justified — he followed up his own question with speculation about Mark Sanford running against Henry in 2018, and wondering whether any other Republicans will run as well.

I don’t know what I said to that. After Donald Trump handed Henry the job he’d wanted so long, I had sort of stopped pondering 2018, thinking Well, that’s that. I certainly hadn’t given any thought to Mark Sanford having ambitions of running again for the office for which he is so spectacularly unsuited, as he spent eight years demonstrating. I probably just made some noises like homina-homina, as though the speech center of my brain had been struck by lightning.

I had not spent time worrying about that the same way I don’t wake up in the morning worrying about an invasion of Nazi zombies. (Of course, when the Nazi zombies do take over, you realize that you should have worried.)

Anyway, once the brain started running again, I started thinking: Is this why Henry’s running from the chance to lead on the gas tax? Is it all about fearing a challenge from Mr. Club for Growth? (And yeah, Sanford had been on a number of people’s 2018 speculation lists — I just hadn’t been paying attention to that stuff.)

Let’s set aside the absurdity of Sanford leaving his comfort zone to once again occupy the governor’s chair. Being a member of the “no” caucus in Congress suits Sanford’s style perfectly. His political M.O. is: Toss out proposals and watch them get shot down, and then moan about it. That seems to be what he runs to do. That makes him perfectly suited to be a member of the Freedom Caucus. Nobody expect them to accomplish anything. Do that as governor, and you just make the legislative leadership of your own party want to throttle you. They count the days until you’re gone, hoping you’ll be replaced by someone who wants to govern.

Which is what, after 14 years of Sanford and Nikki Haley, lawmakers had every reason to expect. And they did. They were even described as “giddy” about the prospect:

“He’s pragmatic,” said state Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester. “He gets people together to reach compromises. He doesn’t dig into one position, and you’re either with him or you’re not.”

Publicly, S.C. lawmakers offer mostly guarded assessments of Haley and their optimism about McMaster, who will ascend to the governor’s office once Haley is confirmed as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in a few weeks.

Privately, however, some are giddy to trade in Haley – a 44-year-old Republican who bashed lawmakers in the GOP-controlled Legislature on Facebook and in their hometowns, offered failing “grades” to those who disagreed with her and told a real estate group to “take a good shower” after visiting the State House – for McMaster, a GOP governor they think will work with them….

Meanwhile, we saw the GOP leadership in the House stepping out and leading on fixing our roads — unabashedly raising the gas tax, and reforming governance of the agency.

And then, rather than joining them in the vanguard, Henry started muttering about what a bad idea raising the tax was (as though there were some rational alternative way of paying for roads, which there isn’t), making ominous “last resort” noises. As though we hadn’t gotten to the “last resort” stage some time ago.

No, he hasn’t promised to veto such an increase — which would have been his predecessor’s opening move — but he just won’t stop sending out bad vibes about it. (“Always with the negative waves, Moriarty!”)

It’s bad enough that the proposal has to run the Senate gauntlet, with Tom Davis shooting at it from one side and the “tax increase yes; reform no” crowd on the other. When a thing needs doing, the Senate is at its best dysfunctional. It would have been really, really nice to have the governor standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Speaker Lucas in trying to solve this problem, instead of standing by and watching it get kicked farther down the pothole-pocked road.

Taxes are a killer?” Really? No, governor — unsafe roads are a killer, if anything is on this front.

Of course, if one is inclined to pessimism, one might think the window for leadership has closed or soon will, now that a dark cloud has parked itself over anyone and everyone associated with Richard Quinn. I certainly hope that’s not the case, because we have issues in South Carolina that need to be addressed.

I also hope the governor won’t hold back out of fear of 2018, because at some point, you really need to stop running for office and govern

Here’s a reunion for you: Mark Sanford and Gina Smith

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How weird is this world? This weird:

Gina Smith (now Gina Smith Gilbert), who now handles the editorial page at the Island Packet in Hilton Head, posted this on Facebook today:

My favorite politician of all time, Rep. Mark Sanford, stopped by the paper today to talk Trump, offshore driling, etc. I’m always happy to see him. He’s a great sport who — unlike many of his brethren — does not hold grudges against reporters.

And what would Sanford hold a grudge about?

Gina, then at The State, was the reporter who caught Sanford coming back from Argentina in June 2009, thereby breaking that whole story. A few hours later, having been caught red-handed, Sanford came clean in his own peculiar way at that infamous presser.

And you know, it’s just like Sanford to happily pose for a picture with Gina today.

Which is weird to me because, had I been in his place, I’d have:

  • Resigned as governor.
  • Never, ever run for any public office again.
  • Lived in dread of anyone ever taking my picture and publishing it.
  • Experienced tsunamis of guilt at the mention of anyone or anything associated with the Argentina scandal.

But that’s me. I’m dramatic that way. I lack the insouciance that Mr. Sanford wears so easily.

Mark Sanford’s most endearing characteristic: heaping scorn on his own party

One thing about Mark Sanford: He doesn’t hesitate to describe how messed up his own party is. He got quoted at length today by Roll Call regarding the withdrawal of presumptive Speaker-to-be Kevin McCarthy:

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., said it was “mayhem.” McCarthy was “calm, cool and collected,” his wife was there, members were crying. He also named two people who probably could lock up 218 votes for speaker if they threw their hat in the ring: Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. and Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis.

But Ryan, the Ways and Means chairman, vowed Thursday afternoon not to enter the race for speaker. “I will not be a candidate. I continue to believe I can best serve the country and this conference as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee,” he said.

Sanford also said, “I was actually here for the succession of [Newt] Gingrich handing the baton to [Bob] Livingston, the baton didn’t get handed, it ended up [J. Dennis] Hastert. … I was here in those days. This is that level of confusion, change, the suspense, times 10, it’s on steroids. I mean, nobody saw the Boehner thing coming down when it came. … At least with Gingrich, Livingston, Hastert, there was some degree of prediction as to what would come next. It’s gone to the point of no one having a clue as to what’s going to come next.”

And Sanford also addressed the idea of Boehner staying on: “Mentally, I think he’s sort of crossed that Rubicon and there’s no going back.”

 

Today finally IS ‘a great day in South Carolina,’ as we witness a host of miracles in the State House, of all places

the group

Today, the state of South Carolina leaped out into uncharted territory, launching itself from the 19th century right over the troubled 20th, and into the 21st. And it wasn’t even kicking and screaming.

It is, without a doubt, a miracle that today, Gov. Nikki Haley called for the Confederate flag to come off the State House grounds ASAP.

That is HUGE. That alone would have me walking around the State House (as I was just moments ago) saying, “What state am I in? Really, help me: Where am I?”

Today truly IS “a great day in South Carolina.”

NOTHING like this has ever happened in the 28 years that I’ve covered politics and government in South Carolina. Nothing even close to it. What happened today broke all of the rules of what does and does not happen in South Carolina.

Today, the state’s political leadership got together and said, “Hey, let’s just stop all the usual b.s.” Just like THAT (imagine me snapping my fingers)!

But I didn’t witness just one miracle today beneath the dome, with a storm raging outside and thunder crashing. Really, it’s impossible to count how many I saw. I’ll use a biblical accounting method and say seventy times seven. Or more than the stars in the sky…

Let’s just count a few:

  • Nikki Haley, elected as the darling of the Tea Party, standing there and saying “It’s time to move the flag from the capitol grounds,” and saying that if the Legislature doesn’t do it while it’s already here in town (through a proviso, or somehow amending the sine die resolution), she’s going to call them right back to deal with it. And meaning it. Wow. God bless her.
  • Joe Riley, freighted with grief as mayor of a Holy City in mourning, standing there right with her and not having to say a thing because Nikki Haley is saying what needs to be said. So that second march won’t be necessary, Mr. Mayor.
  • Mariangeles Borghini, Emile DeFelice and Tom Hall, the regular folks who pulled together the impromptu, haphazard rally Saturday, standing there witnessing it. Afterwards, I had to go over to Ms. Borghini, a recent immigrant from Argentina, and say, “You know, you don’t normally get what you ask for this fast in South Carolina.” But… maybe you do, now. Who knows? Everything we all knew about SC politics just went out the window. And you know that second rally they’re planning on the flag for July 4th? It just turned into a celebration, instead of another small step on a long, sweaty road.
  • Jim Clyburn standing at her right hand, in total agreement with her on the most divisive issue that I’ve dealt with in my decades in South Carolina.
  • Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, who within the last few days was mouthing the usual stuff about how we had to understand that for some folks it’s about heritage, standing there on her other side. Mark Sanford, who was saying the same stuff a couple of days back, standing behind them.
  • Sen. John Courson, long the Confederate flag’s best friend in the Senate (except when Glenn McConnell was around), standing there with all of them. (Mind you, John has always been the most reasonable voice of that caucus, but he’s still the guy with multiple Confederate flags in his office, and is sort of the embodiment — the sincere embodiment — of the “honor the war dead” argument that has kept the flag up.)
  • South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore and Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison — one white, the other black, sort of like their parties — standing literally shoulder-to-shoulder and grinning without reservation, in complete agreement with each other on the issue that has most surely divided them since we turned into a two-party state, since long, long before either of these young men even knew what Democrats and Republicans were. Moore, who was mouthing the usual “it’s not the time” stuff a couple of days ago, now saying, “We can’t change our past, but we can heal our future.” And Harrison, who can usually be counted on for the usual “if it’s Republican, it’s bad” stuff, telling me “I have nothing but respect for Gov. Haley. She’s doing the right thing, and she’s doing it for the right reasons.”
  • Mind you, Haley and Sanford and Graham and Scott and Courson and Matt Moore all represent the Republican Party that essentially came to power on the issue of keeping the flag up. The GOP took over the House after the 1994 election. The party got an unprecedented turnout in its primary that year in part by, in the national year of the Angry White Male, putting a mock “referendum” question on the primary ballot asking whether the flag should stay up. One of the very first things the party caucus pushed through after assuming control of the House was legislation that put the flying of the flag into law, so that no governor or anyone else but the Legislature could ever take it down. (You might say, why bring that up at such a wonderful moment. Here’s why: To let you know how big a miracle this is.)
  • Democrats and Republicans who have spent the day working sincerely together in multiple meetings today, not to posture and get the other side to vote against something so it can be used in the next election or to raise money, but to solve an issue that cuts right through the heart of South Carolina, and defines the differences between them. I asked House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford whether he has EVER been in such extraordinary meetings as he has been in today, with leaders of both parties determined to reach agreement on such a heavy, politically impossible issue and put it behind us for good. For a second, he almost reverted to the usual, starting to say, not while this governor has been in office… But I said, no, I mean EVER. And he said, no. He has never experienced anything like this on any issue.
  • Drivers going past the flag on Gervais and not just honking their horns in celebration at the flag coming down, but playing monotonal tunes on their horns, a regular symphony of honking. Such giddiness is as unprecedented as all the rest of us. It’s almost like our local version of the Berlin Wall coming down.
  • J.T. McLawhorn, president of the Columbia Urban League, telling me, “Things can change in a moment.” Meaning ANYTHING, no matter how intractable, no matter how long-lived. In South Carolina, the most change-resistant state in the union.
  • The way the sentiment that it was too soon to talk about such a hairy political issue, when we haven’t buried the first victim of the Charleston massacre, had just evaporated. Rep. James Smith, D-Richland, told me that Clem Pinckney “himself would say, ‘Do not lose this moment.'” This was, as the governor had said, the way to “honor the nine blessed souls that are now in heaven.”
  • The way the entire world was there to see it and hear it. And yeah, I’m sure that’s one huge reason we’re seeing this happen so quickly — was best to come out and say this now, while the world was watching, so that everyone would know of the miracle that had happened in South Carolina. But it was still something to see. I estimate this media crowd was about twice the size of the one that witnessed Mark Sanford’s public confession upon his return from Argentina six years ago this month.
  • To hear the booming voices of people spontaneously crying out, “Thank you, governor!” as she left the podium. (Presumably, those were the non-media types, and there were a lot of them on hand.) And no, I don’t think that was planned. It sounded heartfelt to me. Just like the applause that interrupted the governor, and which she had to wait for the end of, after she spoke the fateful words, “It’s time to move the flag from the capitol grounds.”
  • The way nobody was hedging, or qualifying, or talking about half-measures. In the state that normally doesn’t change, and when it does it does so in the tiniest, hesitating, gradualistic baby steps, the governor was like, Let’s just go ahead and take it down, and lawmakers of both parties were like, Yeah, let’s, and the rest of us were like Keanu Reeves, going whoaaaa

How did we get here, and so fast? I don’t think we can explain it in earthly terms. A friend who gave me a ride back to the office after the miracle said she felt like maybe, just maybe, it started when those family members stood in that courtroom the other day, looked at the (alleged) brutal killer of their precious loved ones, and forgave him. I nodded. Maybe so. Maybe that was the beginning of some sort of chain reaction of grace, which led to this.

I don’t know.

Yeah, a lot has to happen before this thing is done. But I think it’s going to happen. I asked James Smith whether he thought, based on his interactions with those involved, the consensus to act was solid. He nodded: “Rock solid,” he said. I believe him.

If you MUST read about Mark Sanford, don’t miss these columns

You probably already saw Kathleen Parker’s column about Mark Sanford — and, as long as she was at it, Thomas Ravenel — since it was in The State today.

If you missed it, here’s a highlight:

“What is it about South Carolina?” is a question I’m frequently asked. From the former governor’s mindless meanderings to the recent assault of the reality show “Southern Charm,” starring former state treasurer Thomas Ravenel, this baffling state seems determined to besaint the besotted and magnify the man-child….

Ravenel, who comes from an old, well-regarded Charleston family and made a fortune on his own, is inexplicably trying to unseat the soon-to-be venerable Sen. Lindsey Graham. (He isn’t quite old enough yet.) Ravenel doesn’t stand a chance of winning because, among other things, he’s not a serious person. Just watch the show, if you can stand it.

And then there’s that thing about Ravenel serving 10 months in prison after a drug conviction.

Thus one wonders, why run? The answer can only be to try to fill that bottomless trough of narcissistic need…

Then there’s Gail Collins’ column in The New York Times, which mentions Ravenel, but concentrates more on Sanford:

Now he’s the Facebook Congressman, who announced his breakup with his Argentine-squeeze-turned-fiancée in a 2,346-word posting that was mainly a whine about his ex-wife, the divorce settlement and visitation rules. “I think I owe you my thinking on this personal, but now public matter,” he told the world. Which most definitely had not asked for the information.

This is precisely the sort of thing his constituents should have been dreading when they gave the 54-year-old Republican another chance in a special House election last year. Sanford’s problem is less his libido than his remarkable, garrulous self-absorption. The man can’t stop sharing. Returning from his Argentina foray, he gave an interview to The Associated Press, in which he philosophized about the “sex line” that set his mistress, María Belén Chapur, apart from other women for whom he’d lusted.

And he held an endless press conference, perhaps the only moment in American political history in which a politician talked about his illicit sex life so much that everybody got bored with the subject. (“I’ll tell you more detail than you’ll ever want. …”) This was the same appearance in which he made the memorable announcement: “I spent the last five days crying in Argentina.”…

You can read the rest of it here.

SC Club for Growth endorses Democrat. In related news, temperature in Hades drops below 32 degrees Fahrenheit

This had social media buzzing this morning:

Columbia, SC – The South Carolina Club for Growth, a network of fiscal conservatives, made history today by endorsing its first statewide Democratic candidate – Ginny Deerin – who is running for Secretary of State.Headshot_Ginny_Deerin_color_SM

“We are endorsing Ginny Deerin for three reasons,” said SC Club for Growth Chairman Dave Ellison. “First, her plan to cut the budget, cut the fees and cut regulations in the Secretary of State’s office compellingly aligns with our commitment to fiscal conservatism.”

“Second, her opponent – the 12-year incumbent – has allowed the Secretary of State’s office to become a bloated bureaucracy that wastes taxpayers’ money and makes doing business in our state more cumbersome for South Carolina companies and charities.”

“Third, Ginny Deerin wants to make our state government more efficient, not only by cutting the budget, fees and regulations in the Secretary of State’s office but also by making the Secretary of State an appointed office, rather than an elected one.”…

The SC Club for Growth, up to now, was best known as Mark Sanford’s most reliable cheerleaders. While he was governor, the organization seemed to exist primarily for that purpose. It has from the start been the champion of the kind of airy, theoretical, ivory-tower, Ayn Randian libertarianism that Sanford represented (as opposed to the more populist, down-home, nitty-gritty, anti-intellectual Tea Party libertarianism that Nikki Haley represents).

So yeah, this is kind of a milestone. While the Club certainly has not loved all Republicans in the past — just as Mark Sanford never did (and the Club went after the ones he really didn’t like) — but this is the first time it has been sufficiently down on a Republican as to endorse a Democrat instead. So I guess that makes Mark Hammond a bit of a record-breaker, too.

Not sure what kind of an impact, if any, it will have — partly because I’m not sure how many of those folks who will vote for anyone or anything with an “R” after its name have even heard of the Club for Growth.

But it’s interesting…

By the way, my first instinct when I saw the news was to be a wise guy about it:

But I see that she’s posted some of the social media buzz about the nod on her website. And well she might: If not for this, you might have gotten to Election Day and beyond without ever having heard of her. So even if it’s just because of the novelty of the thing, this helps.

Deerin 2

Sanford saga is just so sad

And I know way more about it than I want to, or need to:

— Jenny Sanford is asking that U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford undergo a psychiatric evaluation and take anger management and parenting courses in the latest filing in the couple’s contentious divorce.

She also wants the court to appoint an impartial guardian to look after the interests of the youngest of their four sons….

If you’re Jon Stewart, you love this stuff. You get rich off it. But when you think about the real, human pain behind it — pain involving kids — that just seems unconscionable.

Barton Swaim on Sanford and the public apology meme

Two recent posts — this one about Mark Sanford and this one about a public apology — remind me that a couple of weeks back, I meant to mention this book review in the WSJ, written by Columbia’s own Barton Swaim.

Yeah, I know — you click on the link and can’t read the review. I have the same problem, ever since my subscription ran out and the WSJ has refused to offer me terms anywhere near as reasonable as those they offered me in the past. (By contrast, I recently took advantage of an awesome, one-day deal offered by The Washington Post — $29 for a year of total access across all platforms, including the most important, my iPad. I’ve been enjoying it. The WSJ, unfortunately, wants almost that much per month.)

Anyway, it’s a review of Sorry About That by Edwin L. Battistella. It’s about public apologies, and I started reading the review with Mark Sanford in mind. Because I’ve heard more such apologies from him than from anyone. (While I’ve seen nothing that looks like actual contrition, no indication that there is anything that he did that he is truly sorry for.)

So I was startled when I got to this paragraph:

Apologizers’ attempts to avoid naming their offense, says Mr. Battistella, often make their apologies sound inauthentic and self-exculpatory. Instead of repeating or even paraphrasing the unwise remarks that prompted the apology, they will refer to “a careless, off-handed remark” or “insensitive words”; embezzling funds becomes a “mistake,” adultery a “poor decision I deeply regret.” I have a vivid memory of my former boss, Mark Sanford, in the days after his adulterous affair was revealed to the public. (Mr. Battistella devotes a brief section of his book to the governor of South Carolina, as he then was.) He would often refer to the affair in a grammatically bizarre way: “that which has caused the stir that it has.”…

Voldemort was He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Sanford’s long-lasting lapse was “The-Sin-That-Must-Not-Be-Named.”

You know what? Bemused, jaded-wounding observations like Barton’s cause me to have the following thought: I’m not sure that anyone who worked for Mark Sanford as governor forgives him to the extent that he, Mark Sanford, believes he should be forgiven.

NYT rehashes Sanford farce, but adds a new (to me) insight

My first reaction was this:

And indeed, much of the 5,000-word magazine-profile-style piece (it took me three separate chunks of time today to read it) was a painful rehashing of a story we know far too well here in SC, and yet another case of the world affirming Sanford in his conviction that yes, indeed, it’s all about him.

(Sometimes it seems Sanford moves in a bubble that is like an incident in a Douglas Adams novel: Zaphod Beeblebrox steps into a Total Perspective Vortex, which should cause his mind to implode with the realization of how insignificant he is in the grand scheme of things. However, he does so within the safe confines of a custom-made universe. Since that artificial universe was, indeed, made for him, he is the most important thing in it. So he steps out of the machine feeling confirmed in his outsized self-esteem. All he got from the machine was this: “It just told me what I knew all the time. I’m a really terrific and great guy. Didn’t I tell you, baby, I’m Zaphod Beeblebrox!” Very Mark Sanford.)

But I did eventually get to some things I didn’t know about. For instance, I’ve seen little about what has happened since the voters of the 1st District decided to sent him back to Washington. And Lord knows I haven’t been up to Washington myself to check on him. So I read this with interest:

Sanford wound up as a lower-ranking member of the Transportation and Homeland Security committees. When he arrived, the congressional Tea Party rebellion was well underway. And, as an enthusiastic renegade nearly 20 years earlier, Sanford could have easily joined it. But he decided instead to prove useful where he could to Boehner and Boehner’s second in command and expected successor, Eric Cantor of Virginia. Cantor initially had misgivings about Sanford but came to appreciate the new, less confrontational version of him. And Sanford came to appreciate what Cantor might ultimately do for him. Now, despite Cantor’s loss in the primary earlier this month to the more strident conservative David Brat, Sanford says he’ll stick to his plan and work with the leadership when possible.

Huh. Mark Sanford, the guy for whom Newt Gingrich wasn’t radical enough, working with the leadership, within the Establishment? For that matter, Sanford working with anyone other than himself?

This bears watching…

I didn’t take the Policy Council’s kind of math in school

We could all identify with the scene from “Peggy Sue Got Married,” in which Peggy Sue, transported back 30 years to her high school algebra class, tells the teacher (when he demands to know why she blew off a test), “Well, uh, Mr. Snelgrove, I happen to know that in the future, I will not have the slightest use for algebra. And I speak from experience.”

Well, today I needed algebra. And not Algebra I or II, but something I learned how to do in Algebra 5 (in Hawaii, they counted by semesters) or Analytical Geometry or Introduction to Calculus. Or maybe full-fledged Calculus. One of those.

I saw this Tweet from our anti-government friends at the SC Policy Council:

There is nothing “conservative” about a budget that’s grown nearly 40% over the past decade. http://bit.ly/1paA3HT  #sctweets

So I immediately tried to calculate what that was annually. I knew it had to be less than 4 percent, but how much less?

I was pretty sure that I once knew how to set up an equation that would give me the answer, but I had no idea how to do it now. (I thought, Is this a “related rates” problem? I seem to remember that phrase vaguely. But no, I don’t think it is…)

So I guessed, trying several numbers that felt about right. And I found that adding 3.4 percent per year for ten years gave me an increase of a little under 40 percent. (I think I did that right.) So I replied to the Policy Council,

Or in other words, about 3.4 percent or so a year. That’s what you’re saying, right?

Now, I’ll grant you that 3.4 percent a year is nothing to sneeze at. That’s a healthy rate of growth, although not alarmingly high to your average observer.

However… I knew that that sounded WAY higher than what we actually experienced in SC over the last year. And I became immediately suspicious that the Policy Council wasn’t talking about state spending at all, but was throwing in increased federal spending — in other words, funds that our conservative Legislature was in no way involved in levying taxes to raise. So I followed the link, and I was right:

While the General Fund has only grown by 1.76 percent (again accounting for inflation), the bulk of budget growth has come from dependence on Other Funds (27.61 percent increase) and Federal Funds (36.77 percent increase). There is nothing “conservative” about an increasing budget, regardless of where the increases are coming from. Indeed, the budget is even less “conservative” now than ever since reliance on federal funds includes the loss of sovereignty by forcing the state to comply with the federal mandates attached to that funding. Moreover, there is nothing conservative about a budget that doesn’t return surplus money back to the taxpayers.

This reminded me of something that I didn’t realize about modern libertarians until I’d been exposed to Mark Sanford for several years.

I used to think that their objection was to paying for growing government. That they just didn’t like paying their taxes. And through the Reagan era and for a couple of decades after, I think that was to a large extent true — the supposed “pain” of paying taxes did indeed seem to lie at the emotional center of anti-government feeling.

But by the time we were done with Sanford’s battle to keep federal stimulus money out of SC, I had fully realized the extent to which the objection wasn’t to spending their money on government — it was to government itself. If a genie from a bottle made the wealth appear from thin air, the Sanford kind of libertarian would object to it being spent on government programs. Because of this quasi-religious belief that government itself, by existing, was an encroachment on the poor, beleaguered libertarian’s “freedom.”

Which reminds us once again that the policy council doesn’t want conservative government at all. It wants our legislators to be classically liberal.

Which is why, even if I remembered everything from every math class I ever took, I wouldn’t come up with the same answers the Policy Council does in trying to quantify “conservatism.”

The Legislature has been consistently “conservative” by the Reagan-era standard. They have held the line on taxes — cutting them at every turn — ever since Republicans first took over the House at the end of 1994. They have tightly contained the growth in funding sources that they control. And they’ve consistently starved essential functions of government to the extent that they’ve been at best marginally effective. (You can see this most dramatically when you look at our transportation infrastructure, but it’s true in the areas of education, law enforcement, public health, prisons, and so forth.)

But no, they haven’t quite shrunk it to the size that they’ve been able to drown it in a bathtub. Yet. And there are interest groups who won’t be happy until they succeed in doing that — no matter where the money is coming from.

Mark Sanford’s contribution to the rhetoric of regret

After Chris Christie’s lengthy presser the other day crying the blues about how wrong his staff had done him, someone at the NYT had the bright idea of piecing together a bunch of recent (well, not all so recent), similar such moments into a sort of all-purpose mea culpa (or they-a culpa) speech.

Here’s the opening:

I rise today to deliver a very difficult speech. I’ll lay it out. It’s going to hurt. And we’ll let the chips fall where they may. I join you keenly aware that I am regarded in a different light now than I was a year ago. In recent weeks, serious questions have been raised about my conduct in office. … I welcome any and all appropriate investigations. I want the American people to know all the facts, and I am not afraid of having independent people go in and check the facts, and that is exactly what they did.

Anything sound familiar? Yep, the second, third and fourth sentences are classic Mark Sanford, from June 24, 2009.

The feature at the NYT is interactive — scroll over a section of the speech, and you see the source. Go check it out, if you like to wallow in that sort of thing…

 

Gathering to say goodbye to Lee Bandy

Lindsey Graham and Mark Sanford, at reception following Lee Bandy's funeral.

Lindsey Graham and Mark Sanford, at reception following Lee Bandy’s funeral.

Above are some of the better-known people who showed up at First Presbyterian Church in Columbia yesterday to pay their respects to the inimitable Lee Bandy.

There were other politicos, such as Sen. John Courson and former Attorney General Henry McMaster. But far more numerous were present and former colleagues of Lee’s from The State.

With the emphasis being on “former.”

Lindsey Graham wondered whether there were more alumni of the paper in the receiving line — which wound all the way around the fellowship hall — than the present total newsroom employment, and I looked around and said yes, almost certainly.

The former certainly outnumbered the present at the lunch that some of us went to at the Thirsty Fellow after the funeral and reception. That group is pictured below. Of those at the table, only three currently work at The State. The rest are at The Post and Courier in Charleston, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, NPR, The Wall Street Journal, and various other places. Some are free-lancing. Some of us, of course, aren’t in the game at the moment.

That night was when we gave Lee a proper newspaper send-off. There were about 50 of us at Megan Sexton and Sammy Fretwell’s house. At one point in the evening, we crowded into a ragged circle in the biggest room in the house to share Bandy stories. The first couple of speakers were fairly choked up. Then Aaron Sheinin of the AJC cheered us up by saying, “What would we all say if he walked in that door right now?” And immediately, we all raised our glasses and shouted, “Bandy!”

So we went around the room, and after each testimonial — some poignant, some humorous, some both — we hoisted our glasses and cried out his name again. Just the way we did during his lifetime, in a tone infused with delight. That was the way everyone greeted him, from presidents to senators to political professionals to his fellow scribes. Everyone was glad to see him.

And everyone was deeply sorry to see him go.

There was in the room a rosy glow of remembrance of what we had all meant to each other once, and a joy at regaining that comradeship, if only for an evening. But none of the rest of us will have a sendoff like Bandy’s, nor will any of us deserve it as much…

Thirsty

No, Mr. Sanford, it’s YOU who chose to do this to us

I’m sure you’ve all seen coverage of our fellow South Carolinian Chris Cox, who took it upon himself to do yardwork at the Lincoln Memorial.

God bless him for his gesture, especially since he seems to have done so out of a generosity of heart, rather than as implied criticism of anyone:

He said he does not have a political position on the shutdown. “I’m not here to point fingers,” he said. “I only want to inspire people to come out and make a difference.”

“The building behind me serves as a moral compass, not only for our country but for the world.”

“And over my dead body are we going to find trash pouring out of these trash cans,” he said. “At the end of the day we are the stewards of these buildings that are memorials.”

“I want to encourage my friends and fellow Americans to go to their parks, and show up with a trash bag and a rake,” he said. “Show up with a good attitude and firm handshake for the U.S. Park Service.”…

With an attitude like that, I can even forgive him for seeming to be a super-visible example of a certain sort of neighbor. You know, the guy who gets up eagerly on Saturday morning and spends the whole day ostentatiously laboring over his lawn, and acting like he likes it, in an obvious attempt to make other husbands in the neighborhood look bad for wanting to take a nap like a sane person.

I don’t think Chris Cox is like that at all, and I appreciate him.

What I don’t appreciate is what Mark Sanford said in praising him:

“I’m impressed, Chris embodies what it means to be not just a South Carolinian, but an American,” added Sanford. “He saw a job that wasn’t getting done and decided to take care of it. We are not a nanny state, and when government in this case chooses not to do something it’s in keeping with the American tradition to ask, “What can I do to fix the problem?” Chris’s example is one we could all learn from in Washington, and accordingly, I applaud him.”

Let’s review the pertinent part of that. Going right by the nonsensical bleating about a “nanny state,” let’s focus on “when government in this case chooses not to do something.”

Let’s run that again, because it completely blows my mind: “when government in this case chooses not to do something.”

No, Mr. Sanford. Only in the sense that you are the government (because you insisted on running for Congress again) did government “choose not to do something.”

It was you, and your colleagues in the Congress. This is true, obvious, beyond question. Aside from the fact that, contrary to your beliefs, the government is not some alien entity “out there” separate from the people, “in this case,” the guilty parties are unquestionably you and your cohorts.

I’m flabbergasted. It’s just beyond belief that he said that…

Profumo showed what Sanford, Weiner, Spitzer should have done

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Peggy Noonan’s column this week is a good one.

After recounting the Profumo Affair that rocked Britain (and broke a government) 50 years ago, she draws a clear contrast between what a man of honor — which is what John Profumo proved in the end to be — does, and what the likes of Mark Sanford, Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer do.

In case you’re confused — in case you are thinking, “Well, a man of honor wouldn’t get himself into such a situation” — let me remind you that we’re all sinners, in one way or another, some more spectacularly than others. What this is about is whether you do the honorable thing after you’ve done something terribly wrong.

Here’s the best part of the column:

Everyone hoped he’d disappear. He did. Then, three years later, he… announced he’d deepened and matured and was standing for Parliament “to serve the public.” Of course, he said, “It all depends on the voters, whether they can be forgiving. It’s all in their hands. I throw my candidacy on their mercy.”

Well, people didn’t want to think they were unmerciful. Profumo won in a landslide, worked his way up to party chief, and 12 years later ran for prime minister, his past quite forgotten, expunged, by his mounting triumphs.

***

Wait—that’s not what happened. Nothing like that happened! It’s the opposite of what happened.

Because Profumo believed in remorse of conscience—because he actually had a conscience—he could absorb what happened and let it change him however it would. In a way what he believed in was reality. He’d done something terrible—to his country, to his friends, to strangers who had to explain the headlines about him to their children.

He never knew political power again. He never asked for it. He did something altogether more confounding.

He did the hardest thing for a political figure. He really went away. He went to a place that helped the poor, a rundown settlement house called Toynbee Hall in the East End of London. There he did social work—actually the scut work of social work, washing dishes and cleaning toilets. He visited prisons for the criminally insane, helped with housing for the poor and worker education.

And it wasn’t for show, wasn’t a step on the way to political redemption. He worked at Toynbee for 40 years…

What Profumo did addresses what I’ve written about in the past, about actual remorse and penitence.

He did the right thing under the terrible circumstances that he himself had brought about. Sanford, Weiner and Spitzer have not. Shame on them for that. And shame on voters willing to let them get away with it.

John Profumo

John Profumo

New York has SC’s 1st District to blame for Spitzer return

Sanford, having his Spitzer moment. Now Spitzer wants to have a Sanford moment.

Sanford, having his Spitzer moment. Now Spitzer wants to have a Sanford moment.

“The Fix” over at The Washington Post mentioned it in the lede of their Spitzer story:

It’s officially the year of the political comeback, with Mark Sanford winning a congressional seat and Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer attempting their own second acts in New York City…

The New York Times was discreet enough to save it until the 3rd graf:

…His re-emergence comes in an era when politicians — like Representative Mark Sanford of South Carolina and the New York mayoral contender Anthony D. Weiner — have shown that public disapproval, especially over sexual misconduct, can be fleeting, and that voters seem receptive to those who seek forgiveness and redemption….

“It,” of course, is the embarrassing decision by the voters of South Carolina’s 1st District to send Mark Sanford to Congress again.

It’s apparently just given all sorts of bad actors bad ideas.

It shouldn’t. Just because voters in one state elected one guy who couldn’t keep his pants zipped (or even stay in this country when he was supposed to be on duty as governor of SC) doesn’t mean a whole other set of voters will vote for a whole other guy who also spectacularly engaged in misdeeds of a sexual nature. Particularly when the two men are so different politically, and their respective electorates are so different. It’s not like they’re all running on the “adultery” ticket, and that’s the political flavor of the month or something.

But national media too often act as though there is a real connection, and I fear that the backers and political consultants and hangers-on who talk these guys into making these comeback attempts do take such absurd, superficial, incidental correlations into consideration.

These things have been inextricably joined by national media since the start. The day that Mark Sanford did his super-painful (to watch, anyway) confessional presser, I was walking over to the State House for it, not exactly knowing what to expect, when an editor from The New York Post (in whose behalf I was on the way to cover the thing), called me on my old Blackberry to ask what I knew. Not much, I had to tell him. He asked, “Is he going to have a Spitzer moment?” I said again I didn’t know, although yeah, it was possible. I had been hearing things the last couple of days, but what I had heard was so sketchy and dubious that I didn’t want to embarrass myself promising such wild stuff when I had insufficient reason to believe any of it. (The only thing I had to go on was the governor’s bizarre disappearance, and his showing up that morning on a flight from Argentina.)

Then, when Sanford finally came out and started talking, I kept thinking, Wow, it was all actually true.

So now, they’re all like, Spitzer’s gonna try to do a Sanford.

Thanks, 1st District. Thanks so much.

JFK also posed with life-sized Nancy Pelosi

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It turns out that Mark Sanford got his posing-next-to-Nancy-Pelosi shtick from a Democrat — JFK, to be precise.

Who knew?

I didn’t, until the DCCC sent out a fundraising appeal with the following text:

Brad —

I’m not sure if you were alive when President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act 50 years ago today.

I was a recent Trinity College graduate (here’s a picture of me with President Kennedy from just a couple years before to prove it):

President Kennedy called the Equal Pay Act “a first step” to ending the widespread practice of paying women less than men for the same amount of work. And that’s exactly what it was: a first step.

50 years later, we’re still fighting this fight, and women STILL make 23 cents less on the dollar. House Democrats have proposed a solution — the Paycheck Fairness Act — but Republicans voted to block this legislation from even coming to a vote. That’s unacceptable…

And so forth and so on. I’m happy to say that she restrained herself from saying “War on Women” this time, so let’s be grateful.

Basically, I just wanted to share the picture…

Robert Ariail’s perspective on Sanford’s win

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Since we have the last installment of Clare’s report on the Mark Sanford campaign today, I thought I’d also share Robert Ariail’s take on the Sanford victory.

Robert said he’d had this idea kicking around since election night, and just decided to go ahead and do it for today, before he lost the opportunity completely…

An insider’s perspective on the Sanford campaign, Part III

Scott English, Clare Morris and Keith Munson on election night.

Scott English, Clare Morris and Keith Munson on election night.

This is the third and final installment of Clare Morris’ report on her brief stint working on the Mark Sanford campaign in the 1st Congressional District special election. Here are links to Part I and Part II:

How I Spent the Final Days of Mark Sanford’s Congressional Campaign – Part Three

 By Clare Morris

Tuesday, May 7th – Election Day and Victory Party!

My friend Lauren FitzHugh and I headed over to the victory party HQ at Liberty Tap in Mount Pleasant late that afternoon in case we could help Joel Sawyer with any reporter logistics.

I texted someone to ask whether he was going to the victory party and he asked me whether I was predicting a win. Lauren answered for me saying, you don’t call it a “Whatever Party.”

The folks from a Charleston TV station overheard someone say that I had gone to college with Mark and wanted to interview me about that.

Of course, that’s not what it was about. It went a little like this:

Interviewer: “So, I understand that you went to college with Mark Sanford?”

Me: “Yes, I did.” (Big Smile)

Interviewer: “So, we’ve had the Appalachian Trail debacle, followed by the numerous ethics violations, and now these new trespassing allegations by his ex-wife. How do you think he’s handled those things?”

Me: (Brief Startled Look) “Well, I think that we all have had the experience in our lives of hurting the people we love. However, for the rest of us, those transgressions were not played out on the national stage.”

Interviewer: “So, do you think the voters will forgive him?”

Me: (Ready for a Glass of Wine) “I don’t think this election is about forgiveness. I think it’s about who is the most capable of doing the job. Mark’s experience is what voters should weigh in for this special election.”

It was mercifully over then.

As it got closer and closer to the polls closing at 7, there was heightened energy in the room. More and more former Sanford staffers started pouring in, and it turned into a fun, light-hearted reunion of sorts.

Daniel Layfield was there. He’s a successful lawyer now at an international law firm in Charleston, but was Scott English’s intern back in the day.

I also got to catch-up with my buddy Scott and with Keith Munson – a prominent attorney in Greenville. (See pic above).

Scott English, who is now the chief of staff for State Education Superintendent Mick Zais, and I go way back to the mid-‘90s, when I was Mark’s press secretary in Washington and Scott was a legislative assistant and, later, the legislative director. Scott then became Mark’s LD and then chief of staff when he was governor. We enjoyed working together so much in DC that another staffer once complained to Mark that we created an “Animal House” type atmosphere in the office.

Will Folks rolled in in a suit and set up his laptop outside on the porch to file his story on the election results for his blog, FitsNews. As most people know, Will was Mark’s press secretary back in the day. Just as recently as March, The Washington Post declared FitsNews one of the most influential state political blogs in the country.Faith,Clare

Another old friend I was very excited about seeing was former SC Secretary of Commerce Bob Faith (at right). Bob and I worked together during Mark’s first term. We actually went to China and Japan ten years ago for an investment mission (see pic below from Shanghai). He continues to rock it with his super-successful real estate company, Greystar, www.greystar.com.

When the polls closed, we were all eagerly checking the SC State Election Commission website in case we could see any early results. We couldn’t, and kept trying as the night went on. Then the early numbers started trickling in, and Mark’s opponent was winning in Charleston County. The poll numbers had been so tight leading up to the election, we weren’t really shocked, but were certainly a little disappointed and apprehensive.

It seemed like forever until the results showed an advantage for Mark. (It probably wasn’t that long, but it sure felt like it at the time).

I was so busy catching up with old friends and colleagues that the time really slipped by and suddenly, such press outlets as Politico and The Washington Post were declaring Mark the winner.

The stage was flooded with Mark and his family and long-time supporters. His sweet Mom, Peg, was looking on with such pride and so was his fun sister, Sarah. Also, I saw his oldest son, Marshall, who made a special trip home from UVA to be with his Dad on election night.

Lauren and I realized at the same time that María Belén Chapur was on the stage behind Mark. (I’d learned recently that she actually doesn’t go by María, but by her middle name, which is Belén).

Anyway, her presence at the victory party caused a lot of excitement in the crowd.

Will described her as one of the “Winners” in that special election in his May 8th blog:

María Belén Chapur … Sanford’s mistress-turned-fiancée was the undisputed star of the governor’s victory celebration. Decked out in a black Donna Karan dress and three-inch peeptoe sling backs, the tanned, toned Argentine bombshell stole this show.

After Mark gave his victory speech, Belén unobtrusively slipped off the stage and walked to a less crowded and quieter part of the restaurant. Lauren and I made it our business to try to meet her without being “stalker-ish”.

Well, we caught up with her and introduced ourselves in our own perky kind of way. The thing that struck me the most, aside from Belén’s drop-dead gorgeousness, was how incredibly warm she is. I put out my hand to shake hers and she leaned in and took it in both her hands. She smiled and nodded as Lauren and I were talking to her. The acoustics in there were pretty bad, so I’m sure that she had a little trouble understanding us. The other thing that was really apparent to me about Belén was a sense of serenity and stillness. She seemed like the type of kind friend you would seek out for comfort at the end of a really long and bad day.

This totally gross guy interrupted us, so our visit was unexpectedly cut short. Belén told Mark later that we all had met and that she was afraid that we thought she was rude. He called to tell me that, and I assured him that it was the exact opposite – we were totally charmed by her.

###

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ms. Clare Folio Morris is the CEO of the Clare Morris Agency, Inc. (CMA). In 2006, Clare was thrilled to launch her own public relations agency with several colleagues from the SC Department of Commerce. CMA, which recently celebrated its 7th birthday, specializes in helping organizations that are working to make the state more globally competitive.
Ms. Morris is the proud Mom of Roe (23) – a 2011 Furman graduate who works in international finance in New York City and Andrew (20) – an ethical computer hacker in Reston, VA.
She was recently chosen as one of five 2013 Women of Influence by the Greater Columbia Business Monthly.
You can reach her at clare@claremorrisagency.com.

An insider’s perspective on the Sanford campaign, Part II

Clare with Karen Tumulty.

Clare with Karen Tumulty.

Here’s the second installment of Clare Morris’ report on her brief stint working on the Mark Sanford campaign for the 1st Congressional District:

How I Spent the Fin­­al Days of Mark Sanford’s Congressional Campaign – Part Two

By Clare Morris

Monday Evening, May 6

That Monday evening, the campaign had a volunteer-appreciation cookout behind the raggedy headquarters for everyone, and media were invited. I was super stoked because I was hoping to meet some national reporters.

Well, I got to meet Karen Tumulty (see pic) who was with Time for many years and now is with The Washington Post. I’ve always been a big fan of Karen’s because she is so not shrill. Her low-key and measured manner is such a welcome addition to the Sunday morning news show clamor. I told her as much and she seemed pleased in her modest way. My friend Lauren FitzHugh and I chatted her up and complimented Karen on her sassy red jacket and found out that she’d gotten it on sale at Talbot’s.

Late in the afternoon before the reporters arrived, Joel Sawyer, Mark’s campaign spokesperson, pulled all the volunteers together and gave them the 411 about the festivities. He let everyone know that reporters were invited and that they might be asked to give comments. He told them that it was up to them if they felt comfortable doing interviews. Again, with more campaign Zen – Joel told them that under no circumstances should they say anything bad about the opponent.

That evening was a really fun time! Although I’m busting on the headquarters for being raggedy, the burgers and dogs at the cookout were really yummy. The atmosphere, which was the same the short time I was in Charleston, was one of youthful optimism.

One of the most fun things about my little stint at the end of the campaign was seeing old friends from my time in Washington in the mid-‘90’s. What a great surprise to see April [Derr], Paige [Herrin Stowell], and Marie [Dupree] when I walked into campaign headquarters on that Monday! Back in the day, April was Mark’s district director and then chief of staff and Paige and Marie shared his scheduling responsibilities. It was so fun to see them all seamlessly slip back into their old roles and hear their perky chatter as they worked on stuff together.

It’s no understatement to say that Mark has more than his share of detractors.

However, it’s a special person who evokes such loyalty in former staff and friends.

These former staffers of twenty-plus years rearranged their lives and in some instances, made sacrifices to come and support him. Now, that says something.

Tuesday, May 7 – Election Day!

There was a subdued sense of excitement at the campaign headquarters on Election Day. Game Day, right? Mark had a very aggressive schedule, just like he’d had all during the campaign. I’d heard that he had eleven different places to be that day, while his opponent had four.

More former staffers and volunteers kept streaming in. The atmosphere continued to be cautiously optimistic.

The Charleston Post and Courier did not endorse Mark, but no one seemed particularly surprised by that. In fact, no one on the campaign ever mentioned it to me. I just know because I read the paper one morning at breakfast. It makes me wonder whether newspaper endorsements are as important as they used to be.

Again, I wore a dress and heels so that no one would ask me to hold up signs. Ten years ago, I helped with the last days of his gubernatorial campaign and did more than my share of sign-holding.

This Election Day was so different for me than the one ten years ago. For one thing, then I’d drawn the short straw and had to help Jenny get ready for the victory party.

That consisted of Jenny sending me into different party stores to pick things up and then telling me that I wasn’t doing it right.

More to come…the results coming in, the victory party, and meeting Maria.

An insider’s perspective on the Sanford campaign, Part I

The author with the candidate.

The author with the candidate.

Several weeks ago, my friend Clare Morris said she planned to go down to Charleston and volunteer in Mark Sanford’s campaign sometime before the 1st Congressional District special election was over. Knowing that she went to college with the guy, and worked for him in his congressional office and later in his Commerce Department, I did not react with shock or horror. At least, not outwardly. I flatter myself that I’m good at the deadpan reaction.

When I ran into her at the benefit for Boston bombing victims Tuesday evening at the Capital City Club, she started telling me about working in the campaign. I asked her to write a guest piece about the experience. She jumped at the opportunity. In fact, she got into it enough that she’s giving it to me in a couple (or maybe even three) installments. This is the first.

So never let it be said that nothing sympathetic to Mark Sanford runs in this bit of the blogosphere. Enjoy Clare’s report:

How I Spent the Final Days of Mark Sanford’s Congressional Campaign

By Clare Morris

I’ve known Mark Sanford since I was 17 years old. We met during Orientation Week for Furman’s Class of ’83.

I’ve always liked Mark – he was an easygoing and fun guy in college.

When he was elected to Congress in the mid-‘90’s, I worked as his press secretary. We kept in touch over the years, and when he became governor of South Carolina, I was the spokesperson for the SC Department of Commerce.

This gives a little context to what I’m about to describe.

I went to Charleston the last few days before the 1st Congressional District special election and volunteered for Mark’s campaign.

When I told people that was what I was planning to do, the answer was pretty much, “Are you crazy???” I was like, “He’s an old friend from college, and I want to be there to support him.”

So, here’s a little timeline of what it was like:

 

Sunday, May 5th

I wind around East Bay Street in Charleston until I finally find the campaign headquarters. It’s in this small kind of dirty old building across from the Harris Teeter.

I get there and Mark is chatting with a couple who have driven all the way up from Fort Lauderdale to help with his campaign – Laura and Paul. When I noticed that Paul had on a jacket that had a Cato Institute logo on it, I thought, well, this guy is a true believer.

It had been years since Mark and I had seen each other – I’d left Commerce in 2006 to start my own company – and he seemed so tickled to see me. He gave me a big hug, thanked me for coming, introduced me to Paul and Laura, and made me promise that we’d have a “visit.”

What was so interesting about seeing him after all these years is that he seemed so comfortable in his own skin and genuinely happy. You’ve heard in press reports that he’s humbled and appreciative of the support he’s received from former staffers and volunteers, and that’s absolutely how his demeanor seemed.

The campaign headquarters was filled with former staffers (folks I’d worked with back in the mid-‘90’s) and volunteers from all over. The atmosphere was unbridled optimism.

The volunteer coordinator needed us to make calls to get people out to vote and to encourage them to support Mark. The phones were pretty complicated, and the Florida couple and I needed a little orientation to figure out how to work them.

They had phone numbers of likely Mark supporters queued up, and also a script to follow. It was something like this:

“Hi! My name is Clare (no last name) and I’m a friend of Mark Sanford.  I’m just calling to remind you that the special congressional election is coming up on Tuesday. Are you planning to vote?”

At this point, you would document their answer directly into the phone. The next part was:

“Great! Do you think Mark can count on your support?”

Again, you document their answer and thank them for their time.

I have very limited campaign experience. What was really notable about this campaign, however, was that volunteers were instructed to absolutely not say anything bad about the opponent. I was told, “We’re really not into that.”

I made 100 calls that afternoon. It was pretty even between Mark and his opponent. However, one kind of crazy old irate guy said, “If I were you, I wouldn’t say that I’m a friend of Mark Sanford’s!”

I said, “Well, actually, I am. We went to college together.”

He hung up on me.

 

Monday, May 6th

I purposely wore a dress and heels that day so that I wouldn’t have to hold up campaign signs out by the street.

I was back on phone duty and this time the folks I called could not tell me soon enough that they were voting for Mark and they were taking several of their friends to the polls. They actually interrupted my spiel to tell me that.

Also, interestingly enough, several folks I spoke to said that they were praying for him. One lady actually said that she and her friends were going to hold a prayer vigil for him that night. I made sure to tell him that and he seemed really touched by that.

Not all of the volunteers were human. There was this one lady who dressed up her dachshund and rolled him around in a stroller that had “Mark Sanford for Congress” stickers all over it. She talked to Mark every time he came in the room. I asked him at a volunteer appreciation cookout that night how he knew her, and he said that he didn’t.

At that party, the lady was taking pictures and suddenly put her little dog on my lap. I was sitting by Mark and he started making fun of me. A little while later, she put the dog on his lap. All of a sudden, it wasn’t that funny after all.

More to come…Election Day, the victory party, and meeting Maria.

With the dog...

With the dog…