COLUMBIA, S.C.  (AP/WVOC) - South Carolina Education Superintendent Mick Zais is now endorsing Sally Atwater to be the Republican nominee in the race to replace him.

Zais says he feels Atwater will work tirelessly to expand school choice and educator accountability.     

His endorsement comes a week before voters return to the polls for primary runoff elections. 

The widow of GOP strategist Lee Atwater will face Molly Spearman, director of the state Association of School Administrators.

Zais had endorsed Meka Childs, his former deputy superintendent, but she placed sixth in the eight-way Republican primary.

Spearman finished first last week, but only by a half percentage point over Atwater.

Two other GOP candidates from the primary have thrown their support behind Atwater – 4th-place finisher Gary Burgess and Amy Cofield, who came in 5th.

The winner between Atwater and Spearman next week will go on to the November election to face the winner of next week's Democratic runoff for superintendent of education, Sheila Gallagher or Tom Thompson.