CHARLESTON, S.C.—Before Mark Sanford arrived at his polling place, 23-odd reporters had gathered to capture the moment. Shortly after 10 a.m., they spotted him—the former governor in one of his three checked dress shirts, carrying an umbrella to block the spitting rain afflicting the city and suburbs today. But Sanford was stopped by an excited-looking black man with a gym-built body shown off by a red tank top. The man, 34-year-old Jason Cunningham, hugged Sanford while shaking his hand, then eventually let him up into the throng.
Cunningham, who apparently goes by the stage name J-Scribbles, had only recently become a fan of Sanford. He spent nearly half his life in prison, from 1994 to 2010. He got out and started "pursuing my dream" of being a musician. (He gave out a number for a manager which wasn't answered quickly.) Cunningham trusted Sanford because they'd both been through "some stuff" and they'd come back harder.
"Somebody robs your house, OK, and he runs away"—Cunningham sprinted away for effect—"he did wrong. But if he comes back? And Sanford came back!" It was some contrast with Elizabeth Colbert Busch, of whom only pleasant things were known. "She's a single mom, she did this, OK, what about what else she's done?"
Cunningham was an anomaly. Most Sanford voters I talked to fit the profile of reliable conservatives, mostly white, who shied away from anything that might encourage the monsters in D.C. Cece Stricklin, a 76-year-old semi-retired realtor, voted right before Cunningham and hoped that Sanford would oppose the debt limit and repeal Obamacare.
"I'd like it if they got rid of the whole thing but went back and passed some of the parts that worked," he said, such as "something that would make it easier to get insurance if you're not getting it from an employer."
He had mixed feelings, too, about the state opting not to take Medicare expansion money. "That's money we sent to Washington," he grumbled. But he was a conservative, and that meant sticking with Sanford.