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Field of Candidates for State Superintendent Expands to Five, as Pace of Campaign Fundraising Picks Up

February 10, 2018


The field of candidates seeking to become California’s next State Superintendent of Public Instruction has expanded. And the two most prominent candidates - State Sen. Tony Thurmond and charter school advocate Marshall Tuck - have stepped up their fundraising efforts as the June 5 election approaches.

Tuck, a former charter school executive, declared his candidacy in March 2017, and Thurmond, a Democrat and a two-term State Senator from the Richmond/East Bay area, threw his hat in the ring in April 2017. They have both been nailing down endorsements, with Thurmond getting support from the California Teachers Association (CTA) and other union groups, and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), while Tuck was recently endorsed by the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), and also by four Democratic state legislators.

Now, three more candidates have entered the fray:

--Adam Anderson grew up on Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County, then earned an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from CSU Long Beach, followed by an MBA and an MA in Education from Stanford. Anderson, who is in his 30s, has worked as an engineer and as a consultant, including projects in the Chicago Public Schools, and with the EducationSuperHighway, a San Francisco-based nonprofit focused on upgrading internet access in school classrooms.

--Lily Ploski, whose father was an Air Force officer and whose mother came from Mexico, holds a Master’s degree from Columbia University in student personnel administration, and a doctorate in education leadership from Cal State Fullerton. She is an instructor (focusing on financial awareness) at Mills College in Oakland, and has served as a workforce development director with Goodwill Industries in the Bay Area.

--Karen Blake, a geologist from the Bakersfield area with a background in the petroleum industry, who was also a candidate for State Superintendent in 2010. Among other positions, she opposes the Common Core academic standards.

These candidates are competing for the post currently held by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who is termed out after eight years in office. The deadline for candidates to enter the race does not come until March, so more candidates could still step forward in coming weeks.

The candidates for State Superintendent will face off in the June 6 primary election. If no candidate wins 50 percent or more of the vote - and this outcome has become more likely with the presence of five contenders in the field - then the top two vote-getters will go into a runoff election on November 6, 2018.

Tuck has been in a runoff situation before. In June 2014, incumbent Tom Torlakson got 46 percent of the vote (just shy of the 50 percent required for a win), while challenger Marshall Tuck (in his first statewide campaign) got 28 percent. In the November 2014 runoff, Torlakson (who had the advantage of name recognition as the incumbent) prevailed in a fairly close race, drawing 52 percent of the vote compared to 47 percent for Tuck.

But the 2014 runoff proved Tuck to be a potent fundraiser and a capable campaigner. This time, Tuck’s likely opponent in a runoff would be Thurmond, who has many endorsements from unions and Democratic legislators, but has not campaigned for statewide office before, and is not the incumbent.

Both Tuck and Thurmond have already raised more than a million dollars for their respective campaigns, and both are now actively recruiting campaign funds from sympathetic donors.


Source:  EdBrief staff

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