Democrat Winner After Recount in S.C. Schools Chief Race

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Democrat Jim Rex has been declared South Carolina’s next schools chief, surviving a contentious campaign that featured TV ads and debates over school choice.

He narrowly emerged from a recount completed Nov. 17 with a 455-vote margin of victory, out of nearly 1.1 million votes cast, over Republican Karen Floyd, who had to fight her way out of a tough, five-way primary in May to get to the general election.

Ms. Floyd conceded the race Nov. 21.

Mr. Rex, a former high school English teacher and football coach, went on to serve as the dean of education at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C. He also served as the president of Columbia College, in Columbia, S.C., in 2000-01.

In his new post as state superintendent of education, Mr. Rex will replace Inez M. Tenenbaum, a Democrat who is completing her second term and chose not to seek re-election. She and Gov. Mark Sanford, a Republican who was re-elected this month, at times clashed over their ideas for school policy, including a tax-credit plan proposed by Mr. Sanford to help offset the cost of private school tuition.

Clear Contrast on Choice

The biggest issue in the battle between Mr. Rex and Ms. Floyd was school choice, and whether the state should forgo tax revenues to provide tax credits to families paying private school tuition. While Mr. Rex adamantly opposed such measures, Ms. Floyd supported them.

Mr. Rex wasn’t available for comment.

Mr. Rex’s victory came despite being outspent by nearly 2-to-1, according to South Carolina campaign-finance records filed with the State Ethics Commission. Ms. Floyd, who founded and runs her own business development and marketing firm, reported spending at least $730,000. Mr. Rex reported spending at least $374,000.

Vol. 26, Issue 13, Page 21

Published in Print: November 29, 2006, as Democrat Winner After Recount in S.C. Schools Chief Race
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