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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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My Almost-Not-Quite Interview With 'The Bear'


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Condon Supporters Flocking To Sanford
Jimmy Moore
June 14, 2002

Even before Charlie Condon made the surprising announcement on Thursday that he is endorsing Mark Sanford in the GOP gubernatorial runoff, I had already made up my mind who I would vote for if Condon was not in the runoff. In fact, it was settled nearly two weeks ago after I attended a political event in downtown Spartanburg. The choice after meeting both Bob Peeler and Mark Sanford was very easy to make!

It was on a very hot Saturday evening a couple of weeks ago at the Spartanburg County political candidate stump meeting that I had the chance to personally meet both Bob Peeler and Mark Sanford for the very first time. Since I had been working so hard for Charlie Condon’s candidacy for the GOP nomination for Governor, I wanted to shake hands with both of these gentlemen. The thought had already crossed my mind that I should be prepared to know who to vote for of these two men should Charlie Condon fail to make the runoff.

When I saw Bob Peeler at the event, I had to chase him down several times as he was always on the move speaking with voters. I noticed him speaking to a little boy and patting him on the head. I was anxious to finally meet Bob Peeler in person. When I caught up to him, I stepped in front of him with my hand outstretched and said “Hello Mr. Peeler. My name is Jimmy Moore and I just wanted to introduce myself to you.” He slowly shook my hand, but did not look me in the eye as he was looking at someone else behind me. Over the next few seconds I told him that I wished him well in his campaign for Governor and the coming election. Before I could finish talking to him, he suddenly walked away from me leaving me standing there. I was stunned!

After I collected myself from the complete rejection I had just experienced from Bob Peeler personally, I noticed that Mark Sanford was talking with a couple nearby. I stepped up to wait my turn to speak with him. As I was waiting, I listened to Mark Sanford spend the next ten minutes talking with these voters about what they were concerned with. Watching this scene unfold before my eyes, I immediately sensed that Mark Sanford was a strikingly different man than Bob Peeler. Mark Sanford seemed genuinely interested in talking about them and their problems. There were no sound bytes or campaign slogans used in this conversation. Mark Sanford was just an average, ordinary guy engaged in a conversation with average citizens. This really impressed me!

When it was my turn to speak to Mark Sanford, he stepped right up to me and said as he looked at the cast on my left wrist “Did you say something to your wife you weren’t supposed to?” As I laughed and explained how I broke my wrist to him, I couldn’t help but notice that his eyes were affixed on mine as if to say “You are the most important person to me at this very moment.” He kept asking questions about ME throughout the conversation. When he asked me what my occupation was, I admitted to him that I was volunteering for Charlie Condon’s campaign. Rather than blowing me off and moving on to the next person, he very calmly talked about Charlie Condon being a good man and that he wished him the best in his campaign. Before our verbal exchange concluded, Mark Sanford looked me dead in the eye as he shook my hand and said “Thanks for talking with me. Take care.” That gesture secured in my mind exactly who I would vote for in the runoff if it came down to a race between Peeler and Sanford.

Fast forward to June 11th after the polls are closed. The primary results are in and Charlie Condon ended up in a distant third place behind Bob Peeler and Mark Sanford. In an attempt to get over the initial shock of the primary election results, I decided to watch some television. No sooner that I turned on the television did I see an attack ad on Mark Sanford! My stunned shock turned into saddened anger as I realized that Mark Sanford was now being targeted by a third party soft money organization accusing him of unfair and untrue distortions of his voting record and ideas. It was the same thing I saw happen to Charlie Condon’s campaign from the Citizens For An Independent Society just a few weeks earlier.

About an hour later as the victorious candidates made their speeches, I could not believe what I heard coming out of Bob Peeler’s mouth about Mark Sanford. Rather than talking about his own campaign’s success, Bob Peeler rips into Mark Sanford with threats of exposing who he “really” is (whatever that is supposed to mean!). Meanwhile, Mark Sanford was thanking his supporters for believing in his issues-oriented campaign. The difference between the two victorious candidates was noticeably stark!

The next morning, I would not and could not sit idly by! I immediately started working as a volunteer in the Sanford campaign. I am not ashamed to admit that! Then, as the news came out about the Peeler campaign’s involvement with an eleventh hour attack postcard campaign mailing before the primary, I knew I had made the right choice in siding with Sanford’s campaign. In my mind, I thought that at least Mark Sanford had refused to engage in such blatant dirty politics! That was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for me.

Can I be frank with you, Commonvoice readers? The Peeler campaign is arrogant! From day one, they thought they were the frontrunner of this GOP gubernatorial race. They underestimated Mark Sanford’s ability to win over voters with a clean, issues-oriented campaign. Now the Peeler campaign has ripped off the “good ole boy” image of their candidate and has replaced it with a candidate who looks desperate to do whatever it takes to win this runoff. Even if he has to trash a good conservative Republican along the way, Bob Peeler will take any measure to defeat Mark Sanford in the runoff. And the voters are taking notice. Many of them are Condon supporters, too.

While the Peeler campaign has been scrambling to lobby Condon supporters to join them over the past few days since the primary election (I’ve been called by at least 7 Peeler supporters since Wednesday!), many of us are flocking to Sanford. We are appalled at the bridges that Bob Peeler has burned along the way during this campaign. Those of us who supported Charlie Condon the man have a more kindred spirit with Mark Sanford than we do with Bob Peeler. This will be the key difference that will deliver Mark Sanford a resounding victory for the Republican nomination for Governor of South Carolina on June 25th!

Now that Charlie Condon has fully endorsed Mark Sanford’s candidacy and will be actively campaigning on his behalf, I predict that the Peeler campaign is going to go into a pull-out-all-the-stops panic mode! They realize they cannot compete with Mark Sanford on the issues because they don’t have a record to run on (what the heck has Bob Peeler done as Lt. Governor anyway?!). All the Peeler campaign can hope for now is to trash Sanford enough to turn some voters away from him. I think it is too little too late for that because the voters will not buy it!

When Bob Peeler and his supporters wake up on June 26th and realize that Mark Sanford has won the Republican nomination for Governor, then maybe they will be kicking themselves for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory! Perhaps they might regret that they weren’t a little nicer to the supporters of their primary opponents. Come to think of it, though, I doubt their pride will ever let THAT thought cross their minds!

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