Molly Spearman defeated Sally Atwater in the Republican run-off for state Superintendent of Education.
Spearman has been active in the South Carolina education community for the past three decades, while Atwater worked just as long in federal education policy. Spearman targeted Atwater’s time away from her home state in her ads, saying South Carolina needs to “keep Washington out of our classrooms.”
Atwater, the widow of one of the most powerful players in national politics in the 1980’s, Lee Atwater, surrounded herself with some of the state’s most established Republicans. Her campaign challenged Spearman’s party credentials, since she became Republican in the Reagan years, but later worked under Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum, a Democrat, after campaigning against her.
Spearman’s most active supporters came from within the education community, including a bipartisan team of former SC teachers of the year who spoke to teachers on her behalf in the past two weeks.
Spearman also served four terms as a South Carolina legislator in the 1990s.
Since she joined the race, Spearman has been on part-time status as the director of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators.
Spearman will face Tom Thompson in November’s General Election. He defeated the top primary vote-getter Sheila Gallagher in Tuesday’s run-off.
Thompson is a former dean of graduate studies at South Carolina State University. He is now the PhD administrator for Walden University, an online school based in Minneapolis, MN.
He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The most telling numbers of the election night are the disparate turnouts between the two parties.
With 96 percent of precints reporting, Spearman had about 71,500 votes (57 percent of GOP voters) and Thompson had about 22, 280 (59 percent of Democratic voters).