Marshall Tuck conceded his race for state superintendent of public instruction to opponent Tony Thurmond on Saturday, saying, “I am disappointed because I believe I could have made a real difference for our kids.”
Early results looked good for Tuck, an education reform Democrat who ran Green Dot Public Schools and the Partnership For Los Angeles Schools. The day after the Nov. 6 election, the Los Angeles resident, whose child attends an LAUSD elementary school, led 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent. But as more ballots were tallied in what was the most expensive state superintendent race not just in California in history, but nationwide, Thurmond pulled ahead. And though Thurmond’s lead is less than 2 percent, and many ballots remained uncounted Saturday, the outstanding ballots were in counties Thurmond won handily, including Los Angeles.
Tuck, who also ran for state superintendent in 2014, but lost in that race to incumbent Tom Torlakson, certainly had his work cut out for him. While the race is nonpartisan and both candidates were Democrats, Thurmond, a Northern California Assemblymember, received the official Democratic Party endorsement in a year marked by a massive California blue wave. Tuck also had to contend with false and misleading charges by Thurmond backers suggesting ties to President Trump and his unpopular secretary of education, Betsy DeVos.
Thurmond had the support of not only the California Teachers Association, which spent more than $8 million on his campaign, as well as other unions, including the prison guard union, not normally a player in these contests. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association jumped in and poured half a million into the race to back Thurmond after Tuck ran an ad highlighting the disparity in state spending per prisoner versus per student in the state.
Speak UP did not endorse a candidate in the race, but we strongly believe California should fund schools more and prisons less.
Thurmond has promised to prioritize early education and after-school programs to close the achievement gap and to bring California to the top ten states in per-pupil funding by 2022, and to #1 in the nation by 2026.
Tuck, in an email to supporters, vowed to keep fighting for California kids. “The end goal is that all children in this state and country, regardless of background, get access to quality public schools,” he said. “Reaching that goal is going to take a lot of work and absolutely requires us to get over this loss quickly. We must continue to be extremely determined to do our part to help our children...Millions of children, mostly low income children of color, are not being given a chance at a bright future because our state isn’t serving them well in our public schools. We must all remain determined to help them.”