South Carolina elected officials suffered a setback Tuesday in their efforts to give the governor more power over education.
Voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would make the South Carolina education superintendent an appointed position rather than elected. The proposal was rejected by 60 percent of voters.
The result was a bit of a surprise since the legislative vote to approve the referendum was bipartisan and South Carolina voters in the past decade already agreed to no longer elect the lieutenant governor and adjutant general.
Supporters had hoped to give the governor, who currently has very little say in education policy, more power. They also included job qualification requirements in the proposed amendment, noting no such requirements exist now. Current Superintendent Molly Spearman and the state Chamber of Commerce had traveled the state last week to make a late push for the change.
However, opponents were reluctant to give up their choice to pick the state’s schools chief. The 60 percent opposition was one of Tuesday night’s more lopsided results.
Spearman was able to cruise to reelection despite the setback. The outcome was never in doubt after her Democratic opponent Israel Romero withdrew from the race last month. Romero pulled out of the race once it was revealed he was likely ineligible to hold the office due to a 2008 felony conviction for impersonating an attorney in federal court.
Romero’s withdrawal came too late to remove his name from the ballot, but the State Election Commission did not count any votes he received Tuesday.