Two candidates for state superintendent raise nearly $2 million
Sarah Favot | August 7, 2017
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The election is 10 months away, but the two candidates for the state superintendent of schools have together raised nearly $2 million.
Marshall Tuck, who narrowly lost the 2014 contest against Tom Torlakson, leads in fundraising, reporting $1.2 million in contributions from Jan. 1 through June 30, according to the latest reports filed with the Secretary of State’s Office. Torlakson was elected in 2010 and can’t run again due to term limits.
Tony Thurmond, a state assemblyman from Northern California, raised about $550,000 in the same period. Thurmond received $896,493 through his campaign account for the state superintendent seat, which includes a $536,000 transfer from his state Assembly account. The Assembly account raised $199,000 in the same filing period.
Tuck’s past jobs include CEO of Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a nonprofit formed by former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that runs struggling district schools. He was also president of Green Dot Public Schools, a charter school network in LA. Tuck was the first candidate to enter the race in March.
Thurmond, who is in his second term representing Richmond in the East San Francisco Bay, declared his candidacy a month later. Both are Democrats. Tuck is supported by education reformers, while Thurmond has the support of teachers unions, a common battle line in education races.
Thurmond is from Northern California, while Tuck lives in Los Angeles, another common divide in statewide races in California.
“Our campaign is about bringing Californians together to tackle the big challenges facing our public schools. California doesn’t shrink from big problems — we solve them. We know what it takes to educate our children. Now we need the political courage to do it,” Tuck said in a news release.
“I’m humbled by our early support, and fired up to keep growing our grassroots movement to bring big changes to California’s schools, and renew the promise of public education for all students,” Tuck said.
“I am humbled and motivated by the support I have received so early in my campaign,” said Thurmond said in a news release. “Californians are deeply concerned for the future of our education system, especially given the anti-public school agenda of President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. As a father of two daughters in public schools, I’m committed to funding and improving public education to ensure that all of California’s kids can succeed in a 21st-century economy.”
Tuck’s son attends an LA Unified elementary school.
Tuck noted that none of his donors included PACs or companies. But Thurmond’s campaign fired back at that statement.
Thurmond’s camp argued that Tuck took in $100,000 from PACs and companies in his last race for superintendent. And “$114,340 funneled to his campaign by a PAC … in the campaign reports he just filed.”
“Marshall, the lesson here is simple: if you’re going to run to be the state’s top teacher you might want to start by getting your facts straight – time to hit the books and study up better for your next text,” the statement said.
In an email, Tuck’s campaign manager Andrew Blumenfeld responded to the news release from Thurmond’s campaign.
“We are proud of the 1,141 individuals who contributed over $1.2 million; they want to be a part of a campaign about children, not childish political attacks,” he said. “The clear fact is our campaign has not accepted — and will not accept — contributions from companies or PACs.”
Among Tuck’s donors are people who have supported education reform and charter schools including former LA Mayor Richard Riordan, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Alice and Jim Walton of Walmart, Eli and Edythe Broad of The Broad Foundation, Reed Hastings of Netflix, and Doris Fisher of The Gap.
Thurmond has been endorsed by U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, the California Federation of Teachers, and Torlakson.
Thurmond’s contributions include donations from numerous trades and labor unions PACs, like Plumbers & Steamfitters Local 467 and State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, and colleagues in the Assembly like Anthony Rendon and Lorena Gonzalez.
*This story has been updated to correct the amount of money that Thurmond raised, noting the transfer, and adjusts the total amount the candidates raised. And to correct Tuck’s role at Green Dot.