Challenger Marshall Tuck conceded Wednesday morning to incumbent Tom Torlakson in the contest for California superintendent of public instruction, a race that became the most expensive on the state ballot.
With 100% of precincts reporting at least partial returns, Torlakson had 52% compared with Tuck's 48%. Torlakson had 2,266,425 votes, which gave him a lead of 181,489 over his challenger, a fellow Democrat.
"I congratulate my opponent for running a strong campaign," Torlakson added. "And while I disagree with him in many respects -- I believe he truly wants California's children to succeed -- and I wish him well."
Torlakson defended the work of teachers, who he said were under siege and who welcomed any assistance in helping students.
"If you truly care about our schools, our children and their futures -- wonderful. Join us," he said. "We're right down the street -- at a school in your neighborhood. We want your help. We need your help."
After they advanced from June's primary, the battle between Torlakson and Tuck quickly became a proxy contest between backers of competing visions of how to improve public schools.
Both sides flooded television and radio with campaign ads in recent weeks. Polls showed the race too close to call, with undecided voters virtually matching the supporters for each candidate.
Generally speaking, the backers of Torlakson, 65, favor providing more resources to schools, while also making sure this aid is used more effectively. They see data from standardized tests as a tool to guide instruction rather than to evaluate teachers.
The supporters of Tuck, 41, typically want to counter the influence of teacher unions and favor using student test scores as a major factor in determining teachers pay and job security.