In California’s June 5 primary election, voters sided with students and public education by voting for teacher-supported Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom for governor and East Bay Assembly Member Tony Thurmond for state superintendent of public instruction. Their success came despite corporate billionaires pouring in an unprecedented $30.8 million for their opponents — candidates committed to pushing their agenda to privatize public schools, divert taxpayer dollars from neighborhood public schools to privately run charter schools, and strip educators of their rights.
“Newsom’s clear victory shows that California’s democratic process is not for sale,” says CTA President Eric Heins. “Voters rejected the school privatization agenda of the billionaires supporting Antonio Villaraigosa and showed their support of providing a free public education to all students regardless of their ZIP code. And by supporting Thurmond for the November runoff, voters agreed that he is the one who will make our students and schools a top priority and continue to fight for the rights and future of all educators.”
Massive influx of cash for charter candidates
As of June 1, a handful of billionaires had accounted for much of the nearly $22.3 million given to the charter industry’s independent expenditure committees to elect Antonio Villaraigosa as governor, and about $8.5 million to privately run charter advocate and former Wall Street banker Marshall Tuck. See the infographic on the next page, which breaks down the charter industry’s unprecedented donations for Tuck and Villaraigosa.
Under California’s primary election rules, the two top vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the November general election. Newsom will face Republican John Cox, and Thurmond will square off against Tuck in the November runoff.
“Educators are excited that a champion of our public schools is on the path now to become our next governor,” says Heins of Newsom’s strong showing. “Like educators, he believes that California must invest more in our schools because they’re the key to opportunity and a good life for all students.”
Heins adds that Newsom shares educators’ values and believes in transparency and accountability at all California schools.
“Newsom has seen the fraud and waste in privately run charter schools, and will hold all schools to the same standards. He knows that, with investment and ongoing innovations, our public schools will continue to be community centers instead of the profit centers that some billionaires want to continue to exploit. John Cox shares President Trump and Betsy DeVos’ divisive and destructive agenda for our schools and communities. The choice in November’s general election has never been so stark and compelling.”
Thurmond makes the grade
Heins says Tony Thurmond also shares educators’ values in ensuring all students have the quality public schools and colleges they need and deserve.
“Thurmond knows firsthand the power of public education in transforming the lives of students,” Heins says. “His personal experience shapes his legislative record of advocacy on issues like the teacher shortage, school-based mental health programs, affordable housing for educators, and keeping kids in school and out of the criminal justice system.”
Other CTA-recommended candidates (names in bold) did well in statewide races and move on to the November election:
- Ed Hernandez will face Eleni Kounalakis for lieutenant governor.
- Alex Padilla will face Mark Meuser for secretary of state.
- Betty Yee will face Konstantinos Roditis for state controller.
- Fiona Ma will face Greg Conlon for state treasurer.
- Xavier Becerra will face Steven Bailey for attorney general.
- Ricardo Lara will face Steve Poizner for insurance commissioner.
For election and voter information, and updates on CTA-recommended candidates, see cta.org/campaign.
Charter Lobby Expenditures
According to Capital & Main, a handful of billionaires and other deep-pocketed charter school backers spent an unprecedented $22.3 million in the primary to elect Antonio Villaraigosa for governor, and an additional $8.5 million to elect Marshall Tuck as state superintendent of public instruction. See .