The Final Day In South Carolina’s First District

On the last day of the campaign, the style of the two candidates — Mark Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch — could not be more different.

Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford answers a question from the media as he prepares to vote in downtown Charleston, South Carolina May 7, 2013. Randall Hill / Reuters

In the wacky race for South Carolina’s first district, the candidates took two very different approaches to how to spend their final hours before the winner would be announced.

Mark Sanford, the state’s former Governor, had a packed schedule with no less than ten voter meet and greets. Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch, meanwhile, had one public event: where the assembled press was invited to watch her cast her ballot.

The sharp contrast between the schedules is reflective of the campaign styles of each candidate. Colbert Busch told reporters she’d spend the rest of the afternoon phone banking. “We have to make hundreds of calls,” she said. Sanford would stop at a Piggly Wiggly’s, a Cookout restaurant, and a Pep Boys, to name a few.

At 10 a.m., Sanford showed up alone at a downtown Charleston polling center. There weren’t too many voters there, but the few that were seemed annoyed by the large scrum of reporters following Sanford in.

“Everybody needs to MOVE,” a poll worker yelled. “People need to VOTE.”

Sanford presented his driver’s license, which was scanned in accordance with South Carolina’s voter I.D. law. He was the 77th voter at this particular polling place and at the electronic booth, he hit his name — showing it to reporters before hitting the confirm button.

“It’s an interesting day, it’s somewhat surreal,” he said. “As a candidate you are worn out and tired, it’s been a long last five months but I’m guardedly optimistic about what today may bring.”

Sanford wouldn’t make any predictions on the outcome of the day and acknowledged this was his last chance at a comeback.

“Yeah, I mean I think you can go back in and you ask for a second chance once. I’ve done that and we’ll see what today brings,” he said.

Later in the afternoon at Cookout, Sanford was beat.

“Physically I’m just drained,” he said, refueling on a cheeseburger and a soda.

It didn’t stop him from saying hi to everyone inside, including a young Mormon missionary who was interested to learn why this man was shaking hands with everyone.

“I’m Mark Sanford and I’m running for congress,” he said. “You guys are here on, like, uh, a mission trip?”

“Yessir,” the man replied. “We’re from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

“Good to see ya!”

“I love people and I love being with people,” he said turning back to his burger.

Colbert Busch voted at a Mt. Pleasant middle school gym in the morning, with her husband and aides, and seemed to be overwhelmed by the number of reporters present. The director of the polling site who was fruitlessly trying to tell the media the rules of filming or snapping photos seemed similarly overwhelmed.

The immediate swarm of reporters around Colbert Busch blocked out her husband Claus, who had to fight his way through the crowd to get his chance to vote.

“I’m just trying to get to my wife,” he grumbled to a poll worker.

“I obviously feel VERY positive, VERY encouraged and I can’t thank you enough for paying such close attention to this race,” she said after she cast her ballot. “It’s been wonderful working with all of you.”

Reporters peppered her with questions. Any comment on the justice department monitoring this race? No. What do you think of the voter I.D. law? We’re just going to keep pushing, going to phone bank, I’ve got a lot of work still to do.

“I am predicting victory!” she said.

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