- Associated Press - Sunday, October 26, 2014

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - In an election year topped by races for governor and both U.S. Senate seats, several down-ticket races are also drawing attention in South Carolina as Democratic challengers question the ethics of some Republican incumbents.

Republicans control all the constitutional offices in the state and three down-ticket races pit incumbents against Democrats on Nov. 4. A fourth incumbent, Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers, faces two third-party candidates.

Incumbent Superintendent of Education Mick Zais is not seeking another term and three candidates remain from the original field of 13 hopefuls that filed for the seat. Two other GOP incumbents - Maj. Gen. Bob Livingston Jr, the state’s adjutant general, and Treasurer Curtis Loftis - are unopposed.

A look at the down-ticket contests between major party candidates in South Carolina:

Secretary of State

- Democrat Ginny Derrin of Sullivans Island has criticized Secretary of State Mark Hammond for his 183-mile round-trip commute from his Spartanburg home to his Columbia office in a state car using state fuel. Hammond, first elected in 2002 and who by law is required to be offered a state vehicle, says he reports the commute as personal miles added to his income for tax purposes. Late in the campaign, Derrin, who founded the innovative WINGS for Kids afterschool program in Charleston, rode a bicycle from Spartanburg to Columbia to draw attention to the issue.

Comptroller General

- Democrat Kyle Herbert of Lexington, who works as an accountant in the health care industry, has called for more integrity in the office of comptroller general, the state’s chief accountant. In March, the State Ethics Commission concluded no laws were broken when Eckstrom, who is seeking a fourth term, used $1,600 in campaign money to attend the 2012 Republican National Convention where his girlfriend was an alternate delegate and he had no official role. Eckstrom has called allegations against him politically motivated.

Superintendent of Education

-Republican Molly Spearman, the former director of the state Association of School Administrators emerged from an eight-way primary and a runoff to win the GOP nomination. Democrat Tom Thompson, and educator and former dean of graduate studies at South Carolina State University, won his party’s four-way primary after a runoff. American Party candidate Ed Murray is also in the race. Spearman and Thompson agree South Carolina needs to more equitably fund its schools but are split on whether the state should review federal Common Core education standards.

Attorney General

- Democrat Parnell Diggs, an attorney from Myrtle Beach, born blind and the longtime president of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina, wants tougher ethics laws, says he will take partisan politics out of the administration of justice and says South Carolina should stop fighting same-sex marriages. Incumbent Attorney General Alan Wilson, seeking a second term, is a defendant in two lawsuits by same-sex couples. He says he has received angry calls over the issue, but his first obligation is defending state law and the state constitution, which prohibit same-sex unions.

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