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Election Results | Ellen Weaver wins SC superintendent's race, Ellis concedes

Voters were choosing between Ellen Weaver, Lisa Ellis, and Patricia Mickel.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Ellen Weaver has won the race to become the next state education superintendent, besting her Democrat opponent Lisa Ellis and Green Party candidate Patricia Mickel.

The Associated Press officially called the race around 12:45 a.m. Tuesday. Weaver had declared victory with 74% of precincts reporting, the Associated Press has not yet called the race.

Weaver won by 10 percentage points over Ellis. 

The race wound up being one of the most hotly contested in this election cycle, with a primary that drew multiple candidates on both the Republican and Democratic sides. The winner will lead the state's public school system, an agency increasingly at the center of political struggles over the content of what's taught in classes and the rights granted to some students for sports and equal access. 

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The position came open after incumbent Molly Spearman announced last year she would not seek another term after eight years in office. 

Weaver grew up in South Carolina and was educated in a combination of homeschooling and public schools. She is the only candidate with no teaching background. She graduated with a bachelor's degree from Bob Jones University and went to work for Sen. Jim DeMint in the early 2000s. In 2013, she helped launch the Palmetto Promise Institute, a conservative think tank where she serves as president. Weaver is also a non-elected member of the Education Oversight Committee for the South Carolina General Assembly.

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Weaver is a vocal school choice advocate and supports vouchers to subsidize private or charter school tuition.  

Wednesday morning, Ellis conceded the election, thanking her campaign staff and volunteers in a message posted on social media.

Ellis is a high school English teacher and founder of SCforEd, a group consisting mainly of South Carolina teachers calling for improvements in education, higher pay, and better treatment for teachers. In May 2019, SCforEd organized a teacher rally at the State House in Columbia that was attended by approximately 10,000, one of the largest crowds in the past 20 years.

Over her career, Ellis has earned the accolades of Honors Student Teacher of Excellence, Student Council Advisor of the Year, Staff of the Month, Columbia Business League Phenom, and more. She is also a CERRA Mentor and member of the Junior League of South Carolina.  

Mickel has been an educator for over 15 years at the high school and collegiate levels. Her campaign says she fights for equitable learning for all students, regardless of race, ability, or religion.

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