COLUMBIA — South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford won a second term Tuesday, overcoming an underfunded Democratic opponent who tried to exploit rifts within Republican ranks in this GOP-dominated state.
Sanford, the self-styled political outsider, faced Democrat Tommy Moore, who with 28 years in the Legislature, has been inside some of the state's toughest legislative issues.
With 72 percent of the precincts reporting, Sanford had 54 percent of the vote, while Moore trailed with 45.
He is the first governor to be returned to office since the late Republican Gov. Carroll Campbell, who left office in 1995 with a record of growing his political party while enjoying major legislative accomplishments with a Democrat-controlled Legislature.
But Sanford's had little luck getting central agenda items passed in the GOP-controlled Legislature, including income tax cuts for the wealthiest half of the state's residents, tax breaks for parents using private schools and government streamlining.
Moore was often the Legislature's go-to-guy for working out final deals on nettlesome legislation, including an overhaul of the state's ethics laws and putting together the state lottery.
Moore said Sanford's voucher plans would take money from public schools and hammered away at the state's persistently high jobless rates.
Republicans had high hopes in 2002 when Sanford beat Democrat Jim Hodges with 54 percent of the vote. It was the first time in since Reconstruction ended in the 1890s that Republicans controlled the governor's office and the chambers upstairs in the Statehouse that Union troops shelled.
Sanford's divisions with Republicans were punctuated with fights about legislation. He threatened to sue the Legislature for packing unrelated issues into bills, complained about hiding things in the budget and carried two squirming piglets to the doors of the House chamber to protest the state budget.
It all left an impression on Gene Ellison, a highway construction worker at one of Lexington County's largest precincts. The Republican split his ticket and voted for Moore because Sanford's spats were taking a toll.
"He's uncompromising in his views and our roads are falling apart," Ellison, 64, said. "I'm more of a Republican than a Democrat. I voted for Sanford in the past, but now I've split my ticket," Ellison said.
But obscure things like government restructuring were on some people's minds as they tapped Sanford's name on the touch screens.
Richard Boyd, 50-year-old orthodontist near Columbia, said that was one of the reasons Sanford needs a second term, but also needs to work more with the Legislature.
"I'm sure that would help" get things done, he said. "I think change is always hard."
Sanford's win came as the incumbent raised more than $8 million for the race. Moore pulled together just $3 million for his bid. The gap let Sanford stay on television with ads throughout the summer to tell voters about himself and defining the issues. Moore wasn't able to field his first ads until mid-October and instead relied on a traditional campaign of heading to churches, civic groups and gatherings around the state.
Sanford spent time on the road too, but his win showed again that money and television can trump old-style campaigning.
Sanford, 46, is a self-styled, penny-pinching maverick who served three terms in the U.S. House, stepping down to honor a term-limit pledge. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native developed a reputation for voting against even the most popular legislation, including projects in his own district, and sleeping on a futon in his House office.
After Sanford graduated from college, he worked at a New York investment banking concern and got into real estate.
In early 2001, he entered what would become a GOP crowded field with eight candidates eager to take on Democrat Gov. Jim Hodges. He easily beat former Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler _ a favorite of the state's established GOP base _ and defeated Hodges in the November election with 54 percent of the vote.
Moore, 56, is known as the state Senate's biggest dealmaker. He's been a a fixture on conference committees that have worked out final compromises on the state lottery, sweetening incentives for film makers and changing ethics laws.
He's the founder and owner of Boiler Efficiency Inc. in Clearwater.
Moore grew up in a small mill town near Aiken, delivered newspapers and worked behind a drug store's soft-drink and ice-cream counter. When he was in elementary school, he told a teacher he would be serving in the state House one day. He did that between 1979 and 1980 before winning the Senate seat he's held since 1981.