State Superintendent of Education Jim Rex is mulling over a possible run for governor in 2010. Rex would run as a democrat. He says as he has travelled the state speaking with citizens and has seen a lot of growing concern for education and job creation. Rex is now putting together an exploration committee to put some funding into polling and plans to announce his decision in early September. The Superintendent says there are several reasons he is considering a run for the governor’s office.
“Lots of reasons, I’ve been in this job two and half years, done 35 town hall meetings, did two this week–one in Spartanburg (and) one in Columbia–talked to tens of thousands of South Carolinians and I’m increasingly hearing anxiety and even fear about where I state’s heading and the directions its going,” said Rex. “Our poverty rates are going up, our unemployment rates are going up, the level of confidence and trust in government is going down.”
He says it’s time for this state to move forward and that begins with education. “The fate of the state–and I think most South Carolinians understand this–the fate of the state, short term and long term, is partly determined by the quality of its education system (and) work force development, just the general quality of life,” he said.
“The opposite is true also. You can’t create a 21st century school system in a state that is reluctant to move out of the 20th century.”
Rex believes South Carolina has a done a poor job of marketing itself in the past. He said, “First of all, we need a plan. I don’t think that we have a plan in South Carolina. If so, it hasn’t been well-articulated and it certainly has not been implemented in terms of going out and recruiting industries and businesses, especially knowledge businesses and green technology businesses, to locate in South Carolina.
“Part of that as I mentioned a minute ago is improving the image of the state. We’ve had so much negative publicity in recent years that we don’t have the type of state that is easily marketed in terms of other states and countries.”
Rex says he is a civil servant and not a politician. “This is my first political office,” said Rex. “The first time I ever ran I decided to do it in my 60s, so its difficult to portray me as a career politician, I think. So, this concept of providing public service is something that I believe in. I’ve done it once in this job and I’ll have to decide if I want to offer myself up again to the voters of the state.”