COLUMBIA, S.C. - Republican Gov. Mark Sanford easily won his party's nomination Tuesday, but a little-known and poorly funded challenger was able to grab enough of the vote to send a message to the incumbent.
With 62 percent of the precincts reporting, Sanford had 64 percent of the vote to Dr. Oscar Lovelace's 36 percent. While the returns showed Sanford with a clear win, Lovelace supporters sent a clear message: The governor should work more closely with legislators to help South Carolina move forward.
Lovelace "will do a better job being fair," voter Angela Chambers of Irmo said Tuesday. "Sanford doesn't do a good job bringing people together. I almost feel like he doesn't respect the office of the governor."
During more than a year of campaigning, Sanford never engaged Lovelace and declined repeated debate requests. Even Tuesday, Sanford still would not mention his primary opponent by name.
"If it plays out that way in November, we'll have a change at the governor's office," state Democratic Party Chairman Joe Erwin said.