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South Carolina final results should avoid Democratic education race runoff

Lisa Ellis founded the SC for Ed teacher advocacy group.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina's election board meets Friday to finalize the results for this week's primaries, which should confirm that Democratic Education Superintendent candidate Lisa Ellis narrowly avoided a runoff.

The 3 p.m. meeting will certify all races in South Carolina, but the Democratic superintendent primary was the only statewide race close enough to leave any question about the result.

Ellis, who founded the SC for Ed teacher advocacy group, received 50.1% of Tuesday's vote, according to unofficial results from the South Carolina Election Commission. If her 366-vote margin above the 50% mark is certified, that should avoid a runoff that's required if no candidate gets a majority. Anderson County School District 4 Superintendent Gary Burgess finished second with 31% of the vote and state Rep. Jerry Govan received 19%.

Ellis' Republican opponent will be determined in a June 28 runoff. Palmetto State Teachers Association Executive Director Kathy Maness was the top vote getter at 31% and will face conservative think tank CEO and former state Education Oversight Committee chairwoman Ellen Weaver, who finished at 23%.

The other statewide runoff will be for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, between author and preservationist Catherine Fleming Bruce and state Rep. Krystle Matthews.

They finished first and second in a three-candidate primary where all three women received more than 32% of the vote. Only 4,500 votes separated first place from last place with more than 171,000 ballots cast.

Election officials are also expected to order recounts in three state House races, required when less than 1% of the votes separate the candidates. In a Republican Lexington County race, unofficial results show Rep. Micah Caskey won by just 25 votes. In a state House race in Spartanburg and Cherokee counties, the second and third place finishers aiming for a runoff for an open seat were separated by 14 votes. In a Richland County Republican primary, just four votes separated the challengers.

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