Editorial: A recap of The State’s endorsements in Tuesday’s SC runoff elections

06/23/2014 9:00 PM

06/23/2014 5:08 PM

THE TEMPTATION is great to sit out Tuesday’s runoff elections, since there are so few contests on the ballot, and we just voted two weeks ago. It’s a bad idea.

The job of superintendent of education is completely up in the air, with runoff elections in both the Republican and Democratic primaries. And Republicans still have to select a candidate for lieutenant governor, an office that is almost entirely ceremonial — unless the governor fails to complete the term, in which case the lieutenant governor becomes governor. Additionally, a smattering of local offices will be determined.

Anyone who voted in the Republican primary or did not vote in the primaries may vote in the Republican runoff; anyone who voted in the Democratic primary or did not vote in the primaries may vote in the Democratic primary.

Here’s a review of our endorsements in the runoffs:

Education superintendent, Democrat. Tom Thompson is an earnest educator who has spent a career teaching in the inner-city schools in Chicago and running a rural high school in South Carolina and training many of our state’s principals and superintendents through the state Education Department and USC. He exudes a quiet professionalism that leaves little doubt that he would get to work quickly, and successfully, reinstating the professional development and technical assistance that he says the Education Department has not been providing to the school districts.

Education superintendent, Republican. Molly Spearman, a former classroom teacher who has served as a legislator, a top state Education Department official and director of the state’s school administrators’ association, is one of the visionaries working on a business-backed plan to transform our 19th century model of education to meet our 21st century needs. The idea is to overhaul how we teach — focusing on subject mastery rather than seat time, and tailoring teaching to meet each child’s individual needs — and what we teach, with an emphasis on critical-thinking skills. She supports the smartest reforms from across the political spectrum, from giving parents more choices within the public school system to helping ensure that we have better principals, and that they can act effectively. She’s someone who sees where we need to transform public education and where we need to tweak it, and she has the skills to turn that knowledge into a plan and build the public support to make it happen.

Lieutenant governor, Republican. In eight years as attorney general, Henry McMaster proved himself courageous, dependable and trustworthy — critical character traits for someone who would be governor. He developed a solid record of bringing people together to work collaboratively toward creative solutions to difficult problems and working well with the Legislature — essential skills for accomplishing anything in this state. He has since worked, at the request of Gov. Nikki Haley, on the blueprint for ethics reform that drew praise from anyone who is serious about improving our government. That’s the epitome of public service: work that’s not making him any friends but eventually could give our state a much healthier political climate.

To read our full endorsements, go to thestate.com/endorsements.

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