As a native of the (still great) state of South Carolina and a fellow in the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism, I know a fair number of Mark Sanford supporters, and have always been one myself. During the past year I couldn't have been any happier with the way Gov. Sanford handled the duties of office, especially his stance on the stimulus. It's too bad that his image and reputation are now badly tainted.
A brief survey of friends and professors suggests that most are mourning for the damage Sanford's now-public infidelity has caused the conservative movement in South Carolina. A long-time champion of limited government and fiscal conservatism, Sanford has been known around the state for standing on uncompromised principles and beliefs. Many fear that those values will now be questioned even more.
A sampling from my friends around the Palmetto State:
His moral lapse has cast a pall on every idealistically-driven stance he has taken in the recent past, and perhaps throughout the entirety of his governorship.
—Erin Gillespie, Anderson, SC
Sanford represented what true conservatism is supposed to be about. He has always fought hard for his principles, even when it wasn't politically popular, and when something like this happens, it makes it that much easier for the opposition to discredit him. It's a real blow to a movement that was just starting to take hold. —Abby Olin, Beaufort, SC
Some said their general view of the governor was not changed:
Everyone has their vices, and while I feel that Gov Sanford's decisions were extremely poor, it does not change the fact that I agree with many of his public policy decisions.
—Justin Prescott, Florence, SC
Others were not won over by the tearful admission:
I thought, this was a man I could support more than McCain or any past Republican candidates. My trust in him has been shattered. I am severely disappointed in his leadership and have lost faith in the politics of South Carolina....His statement disclosing the truth does not forgive anything.
—Josh Morgan, Columbia, SC
I was shocked and dismayed about this turn of events. I think Sanford will probably have to resign as a result and it will ruin his political career. My thought is he will not make it two more weeks.
—David Woodard, Clemson, SC
As Sanford put it: "This is the first step in what will be a very long process." He was talking about his personal life, but the Sanford supporters in S.C. have a long process ahead of them as they attempt to repair the damage the governor has done to the limited-government cause.