The Buzz

May 16, 2014

Lee Atwater featured in new ad for his widow's education election

The Buzz

A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to thebuzz@thestate.com.

Sally Atwater's new television commercial for S.C. state education superintendent talks about her handling the challenges of losing her husband, famed GOP strategist Lee Atwater, when in 1991 she was a 38-year-old mother of three.

"Adversity has taught me to never give up," Atwater, a Republican, says in the ad airing statewide that debuted Friday. "As superintendent of education, I will never give up on our children."

A campaign news release quotes GOP strategist Tucker Eskew, who was S.C. Gov. Carroll Campbell's spokesman before helping in presidential campaigns: "Lee Atwater helped lead two presidents to victory, so he’s larger than life to many South Carolina Republicans. And yet it was Sally who showed the resolve to raise their three young girls by herself and instill in each of them the importance of getting a good education"

Lee Atwater's campaign work helped empower Republicans in national and Southern politics, but his negative tactics, such as the famous Willie Horton issue in the 1988 presidential race, bolstered South Carolina's reputation for nasty politics.

Sally Atwater, a Colleton County special needs teacher, is facing seven of other GOP challengers for the open seat in the June 10 primary. Four Democrats also are vying to become education superintendent.

Sally Atwater's new ad "Lee"

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