Former Gov. Mark Sanford stepped into a tent pavilion in Bluffton Saturday morning in time to hear his name invoked in a prayer.
That prayer asked that he be blessed as he seeks "to bring sanity to fiscal judgment."
Sanford made the brief stop at the Beaufort County Republican Party convention in Sun City as he campaigned across the state in preparation for a May 7 faceoff with Democrat Elizabeth Colbert Busch for the 1st Congressional District seat. Sanford called the local support he's received "humbling."
"One of the greatest things about how we age is that some of our oldest friends become our greatest friends," Sanford said during his introduction of State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, the convention's keynote speaker.
Davis and Sanford graduated a year apart at Furman University, and Davis served as the former governor's chief of staff during his successful 2002 and 2006 campaigns.
In his address, Davis called on the state to serve as a check and balance to a federal government he described as "paralyzed" and unable to get its house in order. As an example, he pointed to the struggling postal service which he said loses millions of dollars a day.
"The Republican Party has a duty and an obligation to stand up for those (states') rights," Davis said, adding later, "We need to make our state the free-est state in the nation."
Party delegates later elected officers to two-year terms. The officers were:
Sprouse, 30, said he would work to bring younger members into the party, retain the GOP's conservative values and emphasize accountability within the party. He served as the organization's vice-chairman from 2011 until Saturday. Former chairman Jerry Hallman did not seek reelection.
The delegates approved the party's platform, which did not change significantly from the one adopted in 2011; several resolutions, including one that would require residents to provide proof of American citizenship when registering to vote; and the party's rules.
The convention ended with the election of 23 at-large delegates to the May 4 state convention in Columbia.
Follow reporter Brian Heffernan at twitter.com/IPBG_Brian