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Tuck, Thurmond Advance to November Runoff for State Superintendent

June 14, 2018

Candidates Marshall Tuck and Tony Thurmond will face each other in a runoff election on November 6 for the job of State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

As of June 11 (with some ballots from the June 5 election still being tallied), Tuck had received 1,597,243 votes (37.4 percent of the total) and Thurmond had received 1,497,385 votes (35.1 percent of the total). Thurmond and Tuck both ran well-funded campaigns, but neither of them came close to the 50 percent majority needed to win the job outright in the June 5 primary. As the top-two finishers in the field of four, Tuck and Thurmond advance to the November runoff (in which they will be the only two candidates on the ballot).

On June 5, Thurmond won majorities in San Francisco and Alameda County (areas that are basically his home turf), and Thurmond held narrower leads over Tuck in San Mateo County and Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley). Thurmond also ran narrowly ahead of Tuck in Los Angeles County (which is Tuck’s home turf). Tuck finished ahead of Thurmond in San Diego County, Orange County, Riverside County, and several Central Valley counties.

The other two candidates for State Superintendent on the June 5 ballot - Lily Ploski and Steven Ireland - ran low-profile, low budget campaigns. But even so, Ploski managed to attract 696,965 votes (16.3 percent) and Ireland collected 479.189 votes (11.2 percent).

The day after the June 5 election, Ploski announced she was endorsing Thurmond in the November runoff, saying “Tony and I share the belief that a solid public education is the best foundation for success for California’s students, and that fully funding our public schools has to be our state’s top priority. I urge my supporters to get behind Tony’s progressive campaign to make California’s public schools the best in the nation.”

Many political observers expect a close and hard-fought, multi-million-dollar contest between Thurmond and Tuck in November.

Tuck and Thurmond are both registered Democrats, but they draw support from distinctly different constituencies, which don’t necessarily divide along the lines of Democrats vs. Republicans. The contest is widely being seen as a battle between mainstream educators and teachers unions versus charter school advocates and affluent business leaders who tend to fund “education reform” advocacy groups.

Thurmond is backed by union groups including the California Teachers Association, which is expected to put significant financial resources into his campaign, in addition to sending teachers out walking precincts on behalf of Thurmond.

Tuck is backed by a number of charter school advocacy groups as well as wealthy entrepreneurs like Eli Broad who have backed several candidates for State Superintendent in the past. Tuck is likely to use the financial resources at his disposal on broadcast media and mailers, in an “air campaign” media effort intended to counter the expected “ground campaign” by teachers walking precincts and distributing brochures on behalf of Thurmond. (Polls in past elections have shown that many voters tend to favor candidates for State Superintendent who are supported by classroom teachers).

Source: EdBrief staff

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