SC

Mick Zais Will Not Seek Reelection

S.C. Superintendent of Education Mick Zais will not seek a second term in office, sources close to his office have confirmed to FITS. Zais’ announcement confirms speculation raised first on FITS regarding his status. We reported at the time that Zais was considering an exit from the political stage as soon…

S.C. Superintendent of Education Mick Zais will not seek a second term in office, sources close to his office have confirmed to FITS.

Zais’ announcement confirms speculation raised first on FITS regarding his status. We reported at the time that Zais was considering an exit from the political stage as soon as he retired $45,000 worth of lingering campaign debt from his 2010 race.

Sources close to Zais say the 69-year-old wants to spend more time with his family – including a pair of new grandchildren.

“He’s had a long, good career,” one Palmetto Republican official told FITS, adding a second term would be “too much stress on his family.”

The first-term Republican – a former Army general – has very little power over education policy in South Carolina.  Academic budgets for government-run schools are controlled largely by local districts, while state-level policy decisions are made by the S.C. General Assembly.

How’s that worked out for Palmetto State students? Not well …

The only real power Zais’ office has is the bully pulpit – and he’s used it sparingly.

Two Democrats – S.C. Rep. Mike Anthony of Union, S.C. and former Department of Education staffer Montrio Belton of Fort Mill, S.C. – have announced their intentions to seek Zais’ post.  Meanwhile a pair of fiscally liberal “Republicans” from Beaufort County, S.C. – Shannon Erickson and Andy Patrick – have indicated their interest in the seat.

UPDATE: Zais’ official statement.

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14 comments

Charles December 13, 2013 at 1:05 pm

That’s disappointing news but might explain why Ragley left. Zais has not been afraid to push for needed changes in public education or make his position known. Unfortunately, the “superintendent” title doesn’t mean as much as people think and criticism towards him (mainly from those who make money off of school districts) is not deserved. He is hamstrung by the limitations placed on the position. School districts have free reign in this state. Then we have the South Carolina School Boards Association that protects what’s wrong with them and public education. Almost hopeless unless we get school choice. Kudos to Zais,

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Full Bird December 13, 2013 at 2:48 pm

One has to be able to “risk it all” if one is to make significant change in government. Retired Generals are used to being at desk, not at risk.

He is a good man, a true soldier in his time and due honor, but in the game of politics you must risk your reputation and standing or you are just in the status quo.

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Frank Pytel December 13, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Well, with better understanding now, I reckon my previous posts on other articles makes me the AZZ. MEH

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The Colonel December 13, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Zais is an honorable guy only interested in improving education – hope we can find another who isn’t just looking for a political launching pad a la Rex and Tenebaum.

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Blue Collar Worker December 13, 2013 at 1:51 pm

Funny. We I met with him two months ago, he said he was definitely running; I guess life can change. It’s been said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” (John Hughes through Ferris Bueller)

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Francis December 13, 2013 at 2:45 pm

He was a Haley loyalist , doing as she instructed. Not a bad guy, but we needed more. Have a nice retirement.

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Seriously? December 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Do you have any idea what you are talking about? Haley has no use for Zais and he sure as hell hasn’t done anything to help or hurt her on education. I’m hearing Haley didn’t even consult Zais when crafting her forthcoming “edujamaction” plan.

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Centrist View December 13, 2013 at 3:28 pm

“The first-term Republican – a former Army general – has very little power over education policy in South Carolina. Academic budgets for government-run schools are controlled largely by local districts, while state-level policy decisions are made by the S.C. General Assembly.”

Kind of like being the Supervisor of a grave yard. Lots of people under him but none are listening.

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scarolina December 13, 2013 at 3:39 pm

“Kind of like being the Supervisor of a grave yard. Lots of people under him but none are listening.”
Zais used that line, a LOT, when running three years ago, to describe his time at Newberry College, and how he still got things done, and how he would get things done in Columbia.

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scsweepin December 13, 2013 at 11:21 pm

I don’t quite understand why so many expected or “bought into” so much from a retired General Officer of the Army. It simply is not the nature of the beast for a General Officer to be an agent of change or to possess the skills necessary to “sell” such a program to others.

It’s simply not credible to either buy into or accept the excuse of lack of authority or power in explaining little accomplishment. If he did not know of both the strengths of the office and the limitations of the office, then shame on him, not me, and most certainly, not the citizenry of the State of SC.

The truth is his career skills, by nature, did not lend themselves to the office and its demands.

It certainly didn’t help him to be Haley/Tea Party dependent. I can’t imagine having to follow her leadership; the lack thereof, and that of the Tea Bagging malcontents, however well meaning.

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Manray December 14, 2013 at 10:43 am

With no money and no power, it sounds like the education department and its superintendent are ripe for elimination? After all these years of “fiscally-responsible” Republican government, why is this worthless bureaucracy allowed to continue?

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IVEBEENHACKED December 14, 2013 at 2:42 pm

He could not wipe his ass without Queen Haleys approval.

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Ralph Hightower December 14, 2013 at 6:03 pm

He’s getting out when the getting’s good. He probably now has a guaranteed pension for life for his short four years in office.

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Yelsewh December 16, 2013 at 8:37 am

I enjoyed it when Zais told employees at the SC Dept of Ed to refer to him as “General” … that didn’t last long. Honestly, the guy seemed disenchanted with the job after the first few months. It’s been clear for a long time that he wasn’t going to run for reelection. One mistake he made that is simply unforgivable is appointing Sott English as his Chief Operating Office.

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