Top candidates for state schools chief in close money race

Incumbent Tom Torlakson and challenger Marshall Tuck posted evenly-matched campaign finance hauls

The top contenders to be the state’s public schools chief are neck-and-neck in campaign funds leading into the June primary, according to finance reports filed Thursday.

Current state superintendent Tom Torlakson has just under $200,000 in the bank for the final stretch of the campaign. Torlakson, a Democrat who is running for his second term, raised slightly more than $300,000 between March 18 and May 17, and spent nearly $700,000 in that time. 



An earlier version of a shareline in this post said Tom Torlakson's campaign for schools chief was boosted by labor groups and L.A. businessman Bill Bloomfield. Bloomfield is backing challenger Marshall Tuck.


Torlakson is strongly backed by the state’s teachers unions, which have independently poured in nearly $2.5 million into radio ads and mailers to boost his bid.

His challenger, Marshall Tuck, reported $160,000 cash on hand. In the most recent reporting period, Tuck, also a Democrat, raised around $325,000 and spent nearly $590,000.

Tuck, a former charter schools executive, has been endorsed by former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson. His campaign is also getting a lift from Los Angeles businessman Bill Bloomfield, who has paid for $720,000 for independent mailers touting Tuck.

Also vying for the post is Lydia Gutierrez, a Long Beach Unified teacher,  who raised around $5,500 and spent $10,000 in the last period. She reported less than $2,000 in the bank.

The job is nonpartisan, meaning candidates’ party affiliations won’t be on the ballot. If a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote in June, the race will be settled; if not, the top two vote-getters will compete in the November election.

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