COLOMBIA, South Carolina
In her pursuit of South Carolina’s top education job, Republican Ellen Weaver has won the endorsement of a number of party leaders across the state, as well as a political action committee headed by one of the best GOP newcomers in the state.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Honorary Chairman John Warren said South Carolina’s conservative future would support Weaver’s campaign for the state’s superintendent of education, calling the advocate the choice of the school of “by far the most qualified candidate in his knowledge, skills and conservative convictions”. “
Weaver – the first woman to chair the state Education Oversight Committee, a nonpartisan group of political appointees tasked with enacting standards to improve the K-12 education system in Carolina du Sud – is “a lifelong conservative Republican who fought in the trenches for school choice.” Warren added.
A wealthy businessman who forced Gov. Henry McMaster into a GOP runoff in 2018, Warren launched his PAC ahead of the 2020 election, seeking to recruit and support “conservative, capable, and courageous” candidates for the legislative elections based on the “conservative reform movement” he postulated during his gubernatorial campaign.
Claiming victory in most of the 2020 races in which it has sought to play a role, the group is already backing legislative candidates competing in South Carolina’s June 14 primary election, with plans to announce more approvals. Warren opted out of challenging McMaster for a rematch this year, saying he would focus on his Bitcoin company, but didn’t rule out politics forever.
Superintendent Molly Spearman’s decision not to seek a third term has sparked a wide open race for the state’s top education job, a contest that is expected to draw abundant attention amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, being given Spearman high visibility as she wrestled with how best to safely educate South Carolina K-12 students.
Among the six Republicans seeking the GOP nomination, Weaver racked up the endorsements of establishment Republicans, including the three Republican incumbents — Jeff Duncan, Ralph Norman and William Timmons; former U.S. Senator Jim DeMint, Weaver’s former boss at the Palmetto Promise Institute; and more than two dozen members of the state legislature.
Weaver is also backed by two former South Carolina education chiefs: Barbara Nielsen and Mick Zais, who also briefly served as US education secretary.
The Republican field dwindled in April as two GOP hopefuls, activist Sheri Few and Charleston County School Board member Cindy Bohn Coats, admitted they didn’t have a master’s degree — as required for the job. under a change in state law in 2018 — and dropped out.
Weaver also does not have a master’s degree, but said she will get one online through Western Governors’ University before the general election in November. Weaver has moved on to a master’s program in instructional leadership at Bob Jones University, a completion her campaign said this week remains on track.
Coats later endorsed Weaver, while Few endorsed Lexington County educator Kizzi Staley Gibson, who is also endorsed by Republican Congressman Joe Wilson. The other GOP candidates are Travis Bedson, Bryan Chapman, Lynda Leventis-Wells and Kathy Maness.
The three Democrats seeking their party’s nomination are teacher Lisa Ellis, state Rep. Jerry Govan, Jr., and school board member Gary Burgess, who says public money shouldn’t not be diverted to private, parochial or religious schools. Democrats have not held elected office statewide in South Carolina since Jim Rex won the race for superintendent of education in 2006.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.