Democratic challenger raises more than incumbent SC schools chief

jself@thestate.comOctober 11, 2013 

— Democratic state Rep. Mike Anthony closed his first fundraising quarter in the race for state superintendent of education ahead of Republican incumbent Mick Zais.

Anthony, a retired public-school football coach and teacher from Union, raised $27,575 and has $19,219 cash on hand, campaign finance reports filed Thursday show.

Zais, of Columbia, raised $11,406 during the quarter and has $13,238 in cash on hand. He owes $45,578 on a campaign loan from his 2010 campaign.

VIEW: Contributions and expenditures in 2014 state superintendent race

Anthony received support from the business community, educators and former and current state legislators, while Zais raised most of his money from the business community.

Zais’ highest contribution came from Julie Brenan, wife of Columbia banker Michael Brenan, Gov. Nikki Haley’s appointee to the State Board of Education. Brenan gave $3,500, the most a candidate for a statewide office can receive from one source.

Anthony picked up more than $5,000 in contributions from educators, including $200 from former state Rep. Molly Spearman, director of the S.C. Association of School Administrators. Spearman also was encouraged to run for superintendent but decided against it.

“We’re excited that we outraised the incumbent superintendent,” said Tyler Jones, Anthony’s campaign manager, adding Anthony began fundraising mid-August, halfway through the quarter.

Anthony, a six-term legislator, has about $6,500 in cash on hand in his S.C. House campaign account where it will remain for now, Jones said. With permission from donors, Anthony could transfer that money to his campaign for schools chief.

Zais, who has not been fundraising since January 2012, raised $11,000 since the end of August. Zais said Friday he has had two fundraisers since Oct. 1 that will be reported next quarter.

The first-term superintendent, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general and university president, says his campaign will pick up soon, adding, “It’s a little early to be putting much talk in fundraising.”

Zais has not hired a campaign manager yet. His 2010 campaign manager, Jay Ragley, left the state Education Department last month to take a private-sector job and will not run Zais’ campaign.

Both Zais and Anthony have a long way to go in fundraising. Zais spent $300,000 on his 2010 campaign while his Democratic opponent spent twice that.

Another candidate has announced a run against Anthony in the June Democratic primary, Montrio Belton of Fort Mill. Belton, a former Education Department staffer under Zais, said Friday that contributions he has received will be reported in January, the next filing deadline.

Reach Self at (803)771-8658

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