Molly Spearman endorses Maness for state superintendent

The sitting state superintendent has made her endorsement in the eight-person race for the...
The sitting state superintendent has made her endorsement in the eight-person race for the Republican nomination.(Live 5 News)
Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 3:36 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 6, 2022 at 7:16 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - With eight days until primary voters head to the polls to determine which candidates will face off in the general election for state superintendent of education, a major endorsement could help Republicans cut through the noise of a crowded primary.

Current State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced Monday that she is throwing her support behind fellow Republican Kathy Maness. Maness is the executive director of the Palmetto Teachers Association and a sitting council member for the Town of Lexington.

Spearman says she met with many of the candidates, looked at their platforms and settled on Maness.

“Kathy is the only candidate running that has the necessary qualifications, the experience and the track record of advancing student-first policies,” Spearman said.

Spearmen made the announcement at the James B. Edwards Elementary School in Mount Pleasant alongside Maness and a small group of supporters.

The pair had another campaign stop in Columbia earlier in the day and will make additional stops in Horry, York and Greenville Counties as well.

“I want to lead our state and be there for our students, our teachers and our parents. We need to make sure that when students leave our public schools, they’re ready for the three ‘E’s: enrollment, enlistment and employment,” Maness said. “And we have to make sure that our schools are safe for our students, teachers and everyone else in our school buildings.”

Maness is one of eight Republicans running for state superintendent. The field was shaken up after several candidates were made aware of qualifications for the positions that went into effect in 2018 requiring them to hold a Master’s Degree. Two candidates, Cindy Bohn Coats of Charleston and Sheri Few of Lugoff dropped out of the race after not meeting the requirement.

Maness’ chief primary opponent is likely to be Ellen Weaver, the president and CEO of the conservative think tank Palmetto Promise Institute. Weaver, who earned Coats’ endorsement in April, also does not have a Master’s Degree but says she will have it completed by the November general election.

Spearman, who is not seeking a third term, says the qualification requirements are an important part of this race.

“The first time I ran in 2014, there were no qualifications. You only had to be 18 years old. That was ridiculous,” Spearman said. “I worked, along with the general assembly together in one of those bipartisan issues that was a unanimous decision by the state senate and 2/3 of the house voted that we should have qualifications. . . It is the law of the land, signed by the governor and already in effect since 2018.”

The only candidate from the Tri-County still in the race is Travis Bedson. He reacted to the endorsement in a statement says:

“This is an unsurprising continuation of the status quo. During the pandemic, both Spearman and Maness were big supporters of mask mandates, and they have both been part of South Carolina’s failing education system for the past decade,” Bedson said. “This is the exact brand of cronyism that led me to join this race.”

Maness says at this point of the pandemic she would not support a mask mandate or vaccination requirements for all children. No other candidate responded to a request for comment.

Maness laid out a number of issues she hopes to address if elected, including the teacher shortage, catching kids up from COVID and safety.

“The first thing I will do after I am sworn into this office in January is I will bring together police chiefs and sheriffs from all over South Carolina, the big cities, the small cities, urban, rural and we are going to talk about school safety in this state,” Maness said. “One thing we have to do is make sure there are school resource officers in every school. We still have some schools that do not have them.”

The primary election is Tuesday, June 14. Early voting has already begun. If no candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, the election will go to a runoff between the top two vote-getters.

The winner of the Republican primary will likely face Democrat Lisa Ellis, Richland 2 teacher and organizer of the online community SCforEd, in the November general election.

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