Two former Republican candidates took sides Friday in the GOP runoff for state superintendent of education.
Both said initially they planned to remain neutral in the runoff between Sally Atwater of Charleston and Molly Spearman of Saluda.
Amy Cofield of Lexington, a lawyer and former teacher, said she would back Atwater. Elizabeth Moffly of Charleston, who has run for superintendent three times, declared her support for Spearman.
Moffly said Atwater’s supporters have accused Spearman of being a Democrat, adding those tactics were similar to those used against Ronald Reagan, also a former Democrat.
Spearman was elected as a Democrat to the S.C. House in 1992 but switched to the Republican Party in 1995.
Meanwhile, Cofield said Atwater would make a strong superintendent.
“Sally is a strong Republican, someone who will not stop until Common Core standards are a thing of the past,” Cofield said in a news release issued by Atwater’s campaign.
Later Friday, third-place finisher Sheri Few of Lugoff called on Atwater to drop out of the race so that she could run against Spearman.
Few, head of S.C. Parents Involved in Education, finished about three percentage points behind Atwater and Spearman in Tuesday’s primary. Few criticized a radio appearance Atwater made, calling it “an embarrassment” and saying Atwater is unprepared for the job.
“If Sally Atwater is not going to run a credible campaign against Molly Spearman, then she needs to step aside and let me give Republicans a clear choice on June 24,” Few said.
Republican Party chairman Matt Moore responded by calling Few “a sore loser.”
“This was a close race for first place, not second,” Moore said. “Sore losers shouldn't make themselves the center of attention – it damages our electoral process. Voters have spoken. Ballots are set and we should let the voters decide."