State of the State Issues (copy)

Israel Romero, the Democratic nominee for South Carolina superintendent of education, said Wednesday he is withdrawing from the race after reports that a 2008 felony conviction would prevent him from serving. File/Grace Beahm Alford/Staff

COLUMBIA — The Democratic nominee for South Carolina superintendent of education said Wednesday he is withdrawing from the race a day after reports emerged that a 2008 felony conviction could prevent him from serving.

The Greenville News and Anderson Independent-Mail reported Tuesday that Israel Romero was convicted in 2008 for the unauthorized practice of law. A constitutional amendment in South Carolina prohibits candidates from running for office within 15 years of a felony conviction.

In a brief telephone interview Wednesday, Romero confirmed he is planning to withdraw from the race, but he declined to comment on the reports of his criminal record.

"I am really withdrawing because I do have some illness problems and I'm in treatment and that's why," Romero said before hanging up.

Romero was running against Republican incumbent Molly Spearman, who is seeking her second term in office. No other candidates are on the ballot.

Chris Whitmire, a spokesman for the State Election Commission, said it is too late for the office to remove a candidate's name from the ballot but that the commission would take a withdrawn candidate's name off the election night results page.

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Romero hadn't submitted official notification of withdrawal as of Wednesday afternoon.

Romero had a minimal presence on the campaign trail. He had appeared at only a few Democratic Party events and had not filed any fundraising reports.

Charleston teacher Michele Phillips announced that she will mount a write-in campaign in Romero's place.

Voters in November's election will also be deciding whether the superintendent of education should be elected in future years or instead be appointed by the governor.

Follow Jamie Lovegrove on Twitter @jslovegrove.

Jamie Lovegrove is a political reporter covering the South Carolina statehouse and congressional delegation. He previously covered Texas politics in Washington for The Dallas Morning News and in Austin for the Texas Tribune.