SC politics: Zais endorses Atwater, Haley appointee endorses Spearman

June 17, 2014 

Selling The Capitol

The South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, S.C., is seen on Jan. 25, 2014. For years, South Carolina's capital was known mainly to visitors as the seat of state government and the home of the University of South Carolina. But in recent years the area's varied attractions have been marketed as part of tourism campaign that the area is "Famously Hot." An estimated 1 million visitors a year now visit the area.

BRUCE SMITH — AP

Schools chief endorses Atwater

S.C. Superintendent of Education Mick Zais on Tuesday endorsed Sally Atwater in the Republican runoff to nominate his successor.

“Sally Atwater will bring to the state superintendent’s office solid conservative values and will work tirelessly to expand school choice and educator accountability,” Republican Zais, who is not seeking re-election, said in a statement. “I give her my strongest endorsement.”

Zais previously had endorsed Meka Childs, a former lieutenant in his administration who placed sixth in the eight-candidate June 10 GOP primary.

Atwater, of Charleston, will face Molly Spearman of Saluda in the June 24 GOP runoff. The two finished neck-and-neck in the GOP primary, with Spearman slightly leading. The winner will face the Democratic nominee in November.

Haley appointee to state education board endorses Spearman

Gov. Nikki Haley’s appointee to the State Board of Education has endorsed Molly Spearman in the GOP runoff for state education superintendent.

Banker Mike Brenan is the past chairman of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce and co-chairman of TransformSC, a business-led organization that promotes economic growth.

“Molly is the best qualified and will work closely with business and industry, teachers and administrators to transform public education,” Brenan said.

Republican Haley has not endorsed a candidate in the GOP runoff.

Former Republican candidate Don Jordan, a USC math professor, also endorsed Spearman, who faces Sally Atwater in Tuesday’s GOP runoff.

“She has the experience as deputy secretary of education, served in the Legislature for four terms, and has the ability and experience to be persuasive with the Legislature, S.C. Department of Education Board and the Education Oversight Committee,” Jordan said of Spearman.

Pro-military bills move through Legislature

A series of proposals to give extra benefits to help military veterans is a step closer to becoming law in South Carolina.

A conference committee quickly approved a bill Tuesday that would extend property tax exemptions to land used for military housing, and allow soldiers and their spouses to vote with absentee ballots in all elections.

The S.C. House approved the compromise 114-0 later Tuesday. The Senate is expected to take it up later this week.

Lawmakers already have passed proposals to allow private employers to favorably consider military service when hiring and to create special courts to treat veterans who have run into nonviolent legal trouble.

A proposal to allow military members and their children to immediately pay in-state tuition at S.C. colleges and universities is waiting in another conference committee.

Sen. Tom Davis, who was on the conference committee, said the proposals are the right thing to do and also could help South Carolina keep its military bases the next time the federal government looks to close some of them. The Beaufort Republican noted federal officials have said they will consider specific quality-of-life issues during the next round of debate on base closings and the proposals deal with those issues.

Staff Writer Cassie Cope and The Associated Press contributed.

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