After the Democratic candidate for South Carolina’s education superintendent withdrew from the race due to a prior felony conviction revealed last week, a Charleston middle school teacher is launching her campaign to be a write-in candidate.
Michele Phillips, who announced her run in a Facebook video, has just two weeks to sway voters. In the brief video, she noted her announcement came just as she’s “starting a unit on ancient Egypt this week for my sixth-graders.”
She will face incumbent Republican Molly Spearman, who was first elected in 2014. Democratic nominee Israel Romero withdrew his candidacy last week after the Anderson Independent-Mail reported he had a 2008 felony conviction for falsely portraying himself as an attorney in federal immigration court. The conviction meant Romero was almost certainly ineligible to hold the office due to the state Constitution’s requirement that at least 15 years elapse after a felony.
The state Election Commission says ballots have already been finalized and sent out. Therefore, it is too late to remove Romero’s name from the ballot. However, votes cast for him will not be officially counted since he has formally withdrawn.
Phillips noted anyone supporting her will need to spell her name exactly for that vote to count. “Michele with one ‘L’ and Phillips with two,” she said. She added she will not accept donations so that she will not have to file campaign finance paperwork.
“I like Molly Spearman, but democracy only works when voters have a choice. I want to give you a choice,” Phillips posted in a separate Facebook message, promoting herself as an advocate for teachers who will take on unequal funding across districts.
Phillips is a former College of Charleston education professor who now teaches at Orange Grove Charter School in Charleston. Prior to that, she lived in Florida.