South Carolina voters head to the polls June 14 to pick a host of candidates running in primaries for statewide, federal, legislative and local offices. In statewide and federal elections, we make the following endorsements in contested primaries based on past service and plans of candidates: 

Governor: In the Republican primary, Gov. Henry McMaster should be the GOP candidate over a raft of political unknowns who seem to think the governor, a well-known conservative and long-time backer of former President Donald Trump, isn’t conservative enough. Wrong. We wish he’d be a little more progressive on poverty, education and health care, but given the alternatives, he’s the best candidate for the job. On the Democratic side, we urge voters to give the nod to former U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham, who brings a freshness and energy that the office needs. With a moderate like Cunningham in the bully pulpit providing yin to conservative yang, the General Assembly would be forced to act more responsibly.

State Superintendent of Education: Democrats should tap S.C. Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, to be their candidate for the state’s top education office. A former teacher and school administrator, this longtime state legislator has the credentials to work with the General Assembly to move public education forward. On the Republican side, we urge primary voters to pick Kathy Maness, who serves as executive director of one of the state’s teacher organizations. She has political experience and is a Republican with the kind of independence needed in the job.

Secretary of State: Republicans should keep Mark Hammond in this office, which he’s modernized through the years. 

Agriculture Secretary: Allow Republican Hugh Weathers to be a candidate to keep his job. He continues to do good work by putting South Carolina agriculture first. 

Attorney General: No endorsement in the Republican primary.

U.S. Senate: Democratic voters can pick among three women to be the party candidate against GOP Sen. Tim Scott in the fall. We recommend S.C. Rep. Krystle Matthews, D-Ladson, to wear the party’s mantle in the November election. 

U.S. Congress, District 1: We don’t always agree with Republican U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace because of how she preens and panders in the media, but she is far and away the only solid Republican candidate in this race. 

U.S. Congress, District 6: Longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn deserves to be reelected to continue national leadership in Congress. In our view, he’s the best thing South Carolina has going for it in Congress. No recommendation for a GOP challenger.

Next week: Endorsements for Charleston County primary candidates.

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