The Democratic Party’s nominee for education superintendent said he will withdraw from the race, just days after a report questioned whether he was even eligible for the job.
Israel Romero told the Post & Courier newspaper on Wednesday that he will withdraw from the race. On Monday, the Anderson Independent-Mail reported Romero had been convicted of a felony ten years ago. The state constitution bans candidates from taking office within 15 years of such a conviction.
Romero was challenging incumbent Education Superintendent Molly Spearman, who has served as the state’s schools chief since her 2014 election. The former teacher is seen as an extremely long-shot candidate against Spearman. Spearman, a former Democratic legislator, has been able to gather bipartisan support during her time in office.
The newspaper said Romero was convicted in 2008 for falsely presenting himself as an attorney in a federal immigration case. He was sentenced to three months in jail and ordered to pay $3,000 restitution. The paper found two other instances from Romero’s time living in New York where state officials cited him for improperly presenting himself as an attorney to individuals going through a divorce.
Romero refused to answer any specific questions about the report.
Election officials say it’s too late to remove Romero’s name from ballots, but that votes for him will not count if he does formally withdraw.
The state constitution says a political party “must not certify any candidate who does not… meet the qualifications for the office for which the candidate has filed, and such candidate’s name shall not be placed on a primary ballot.” The South Carolina Democratic Party was apparently unaware of Romero’s criminal history when he won the party primary in June.
Romero does not have a campaign website and has not reported raising or spending any money with the state Ethics Commission. His campaign positions are posted on his LinkedIn page.
South Carolina voters will consider an Election Day referendum asking if they wish to continue electing the state education superintendent or change the constitution so the job is appointed by the governor.