In a crowded statewide race, Ellen Weaver, of Greenville, will face Kathy Maness, of Lexington, for the Republican primary for State Superintendent of Education in a runoff election on June 28.
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Lisa Ellis of Columbia had just under 50% of the vote late Tuesday in a race that may be headed to a runoff as well. Gary Burgess of Inman was in second place with 31.24% of the vote. He would be Ellis’ opponent if she fails to reach the 50 percent-plus 1 threshold to avoid a run-off.
The Associated Press has reported a victory for Ellis, but the South Carolina Election Commission still had 98% of the counties reporting as of Wednesday morning with Ellis still having 49.83% of the vote.
“I’m excited and grateful to have finished in the top two. I congratulate my opponents on running a hard-fought race,” Weaver said in a statement sent late Tuesday. “Tonight, over 60% of Republican voters sent a clear message that they don’t want to elect an establishment bureaucrat.”
The candidates are vying for the state superintendent job currently held by Molly Spearman, who announced she would not be seeking reelection last fall after eight years in office.
As of Wednesday with 98% of the total vote calculated, unofficial results had Maness capturing 31.19% of the vote with 99,438 votes, but Weaver maintained 23.13% with 73,748 votes, making the race appear close enough for a runoff.
Weaver is a Bob Jones University graduate and worked for former U.S. Senator Jim DeMint for 12 years before launching the Palmetto Promise Institute, a conservative think tank, in collaboration with DeMint in 2013. Weaver is now the CEO of the organization and lives in Columbia.
Weaver announced her candidacy for state superintendent in November 2021. According to her campaign website, Weaver supports school choice, raising teacher salaries to the national average in five years and is against mask and vaccine mandates in schools.
Her website also states a position to “protect children from political indoctrination in every form” and references Critical Race Theory (CRT). The South Carolina Department of Education has maintained that CRT, a graduate level academic framework that examines racism in American society, is not taught in state K-12 schools.
According to reporting last week by The State, Weaver still lacks qualifications for the job by not having an advanced degree, a credential added for the state’s top school job in 2018. She’s currently enrolled at Bob Jones University in online courses and pledged to meet the criteria by the general election on Nov. 8.
On the Democratic side, by Wednesday morning, according to unofficial results, Ellis received 49.83% of the vote with 74,582 votes, while Burgess received 31.48% with 83,122 votes, appearing just close enough for a runoff. Burgess announced his candidacy on Feb. 21.
Burgess is on the Anderson County Board of Education and serves as its secretary. According to his campaign website, he served as the assistant superintendent and superintendent of Anderson County School District Four from 2002 to 2008. He graduated from Wofford College, Converse College and, finally, the University of South Carolina in Columbia where he earned his doctorate.
According to his website, Burgess supports locally controlled schools through local boards and believes schools should ensure the “fair and balanced teaching of the history of our nation, our region and our state.”
source: Greenville News