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Editorial: Still mulling those down-ballot SC races? Here's a recap of our endorsements.


Here are the candidates The Post and Courier's editorial staff endorsed for Nov. 3, 2020. First row, from left: Julie Armstrong, Senn Bennett, Debbie Chatman Bryant, Chip Campsen, Al Cannon, Joe Cunningham. Second row: Chris Fraser, Lindsey Graham, Larry Grooms, Lauren Herterich, Joe McKeown, Kylon Middleton. Third row: Charles Monteith, Hunter Schimpff, Sandy Senn, Sam Skardon, Courtney Waters, Scarlett Wilson.

Even with record-shattering absentee voting this year, most of South Carolina's nearly 3.5 million registered voters haven’t cast their ballots. If you’re one of them, it’s now or never. Vote today, or don’t complain about the results.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and lines will still be long in some places. So please vote, but please bring your patience, wear your masks, and keep your distance. And please remember that although we may differ on who will do the best job, we all love our families, communities, state and nation, and we're not enemies.

Here’s a recap of our endorsements. You can find the full endorsements, along with most of the candidates’ responses to our questionnaires, at

• U.S. Senate. Sen. Lindsey Graham's political alignment with President Trump has enabled some of Mr. Trump’s worst impulses, but we cannot deny that he remains a persuasive voice on national and international issues at the highest levels, and he is a powerful advocate for South Carolina.

• First Congressional District. Rep. Joe Cunningham was elected two years ago on a promise to fight back against the hyperpartisanship in Washington and protect our coast from offshore drilling. He’s followed through on the former, ranking among the least partisan members of the House, and he’s gotten legislation passed in the lower chamber to impose a permanent moratorium on drilling.

• Ninth Circuit solicitor. Solicitor Scarlett Wilson has a record few prosecutors can match of addressing the problems in the criminal justice system that are suddenly dominating headlines across the nation — from rooting out racial bias in her own office to making investigations into excessive police force more public. Most importantly, she understands, as her opponent does not, that the job of a prosecutor isn’t to win; it’s to ensure that justice is done, even when that means not bringing a case she knows she could win or not making that winning argument when it's misleading.

• Charleston County sheriff. Sheriff Al Cannon has kept the county safe, and he also has implemented a Criminal Justice Coordinating Council-inspired effort to drastically reduce the number of people held in jail on low-level charges. His opponent has good ideas but lacks the leadership experience needed for the job.

• Charleston County School Board. We have some of the best schools in the state and nation, and more than our share of the worst. The district’s “mission critical” actions were designed to improve education for poor kids without losing the support of better-off parents, through better early childhood education programs, merging too-small schools, focusing extra attention on the worst-performing schools and increasing diversity in the best schools.

We need school board members who can help guide us through the pandemic and see the mission-critical concept through. The candidates who are best equipped for and committed to doing this are Charles Monteith and Courtney Waters for the two North Charleston seats, Lauren Herterich for the downtown Charleston seat, and Chris Fraser and Hunter Schimpff for the two seats that represent West Ashley, James Island, Johns Island and Ravenel.

• S.C. Senate District 37. Sen. Larry Grooms helped lead the effort that raised the gas tax for road improvements and gave the governor unprecedented control over the S.C. Transportation Department. He’s also a consistent vote in support of clean energy efforts and protecting our state's land and water resources and against offshore drilling.

Get a weekly recap of South Carolina opinion and analysis from The Post and Courier in your inbox on Monday evenings.

• S.C. Senate District 38. Sen. Sean Bennett is willing to tackle tough problems, such as stabilizing the public employee pension system and reworking byzantine school funding formulas, in a way that facilitates the essential nuanced debate. He also seeks out common ground and serves as a needed voice of calm.

• S.C. Senate District 41. Sen. Sandy Senn and challenger Sam Skardon are both smart, capable candidates who have centrist inclinations and an appropriate focus on clean energy and other environmentally forward policies. Mr. Skardon’s positive, can-do approach to politics offers an attractive alternative to a first-term senator who has displayed a disturbing habit of being too sure of herself — an off-putting tendency in the collegial Senate — and has made several cringe-worthy comments during this campaign. But Sen. Senn has done exemplary work on the environment. Either candidate would be a good choice.

• S.C. Senate District 43. Sen. Chip Campsen consistently comes up with the complex strategy to get important environmental protections through the Legislature, and he has been a leader on initiatives ranging from opening absentee voting to all qualified voters to protecting heirs’ property from being sold at tax auction during the pandemic.

• S.C. Senate District 44. Debbie Chatman Bryant has worked to get more low-income Lowcountry residents treated for cancer, and to build on the unity and goodwill that emerged after the Emanuel AME Church massacre. Her expertise as a public-health nurse will fill a void at the Statehouse, and she will provide a needed voice of calm to help move lawmakers past the divisiveness that has infected the body politic.

• Charleston County clerk of court. This is a ministerial position defined by state law, not one where the officeholder routinely gets to exercise her own judgment, but it requires a competent professional, or else the criminal and civil court systems will to grind into chaos. Julie Armstrong has done a good job. There is little to suggest that her opponent would.

• Charleston County Council District 3. Joe McKeown’s proven record of service from a previous stint on the council, including work toward consolidating dispatch operations and joint planning with the county and the town of Mount Pleasant, sets him apart.

• Charleston County Council District 6. Kylon Middleton has been a leader in building bridges across racial divides, and he pledges to help restore public trust after the council’s $33 million boondoggle over the former Naval Hospital.

• Charleston County Education Capital Improvements Initiative. As a result of voters’ decisions in 2010 and 2014 to authorize a 1% sales tax to fund school construction projects, dozens of schools have transitioned from an embarrassing state to points of community pride. School officials have proven to be good stewards of this money, and they have provided a list of specific projects, including 16 major ones, they would tackle if voters allow the tax to continue through 2028. We recommend a “yes” vote.

• Charleston County Housing Trust Fund Initiatives 1 and 2. The County Council added these questions to the ballot without even trying to vet them. Our area desperately needs affordable housing, and the first question, authorizing a small property tax increase, doesn’t allow the council to do anything it can’t already do without the vote; we urge a “yes” so council won’t have an excuse not to proceed. But we urge a “no” vote on question 2, allowing the county to borrow $130 million against the additional funding, until the council provides more details.

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