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Garcia concedes schools chief race to Douglas

David Garcia and Diane Douglas prepare for their Superintendent of Public Instruction Debate. (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

David Garcia and Diane Douglas prepare for their Superintendent of Public Instruction Debate. (Photo by Evan Wyloge/Arizona Capitol Times)

Democrat David Garcia conceded the race for superintendent of public Instruction late Monday to Republican Diane Douglas, who declared her slim margin of victory a mandate against Common Core learning standards.

Media outlets had called the race Nov. 9 with Douglas holding a roughly 20,000 vote lead, but Garcia held on until there were only about 23,000 votes to count statewide.

“My team and I put everything into this race, and I am proud of the campaign we ran. We put forth a vision and were willing to speak openly and honestly about the challenges our state faces and the direction we needed to take to improve our schools,” Garcia said in a written statement.

Douglas issued her own press release earlier in the day, saying the large sum of money spent to defeat her by independent expenditure committees, coupled with the media’s labeling her a single-issue candidate, made it clear that a vote for her was a vote against Common Core.

“My campaign was the clearest way for the citizens of Arizona to reject Common Core and that is what they did with this election,” Douglas said in the press release.

Douglas has maintained a one-point margin of victory since the polls closed on Nov. 4. She is trailing by 1,246 votes in Maricopa County and by a wider margin in Pima County, the state’s two largest counties, but won based on votes from the state’s rural counties.

She did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Retired Republican pollster Margaret Kenski and political consultant Barrett Marson said a one-point margin of victory is not considered a mandate. They attributed her win to riding a Republican wave of victory.

Douglas’ campaign focused on repealing Common Core, also known in the state as Arizona’s College and Career Readiness Standards.

Kenski said a victory can’t be considered a voter mandate until a candidate has at least 55 percent of the vote.

Marson said Douglas was invisible throughout the race, so there was really no discussion of education policy.

“It is the office that she holds now and she is free to pursue the policies that she believes in, but I wouldn’t say the voters themselves, especially since she had such a thin margin, are decided on Common Core,” Marson said.

Douglas did win big in Mohave and Yavapai counties, getting 61 percent and 69 percent of the vote respectively.

Kenski said her anti-Common Core message may have resonated more in the rural counties because they are typically more leery of the federal government, regulation and intervention.

Douglas called Common Core a federal mandate and a way for President Obama to take over control of education.

Kenski said her anti-Common Core message may have resonated more in the rural counties because they are typically more leery of the federal government, regulation and intervention.

Douglas called Common Core a federal mandate and a way for President Obama to take over control of education.

One comment

  1. Last time I checked, 40% of Arizonan’s voted, and she got 50% of that vote, which means roughly 20% of Arizonan’s voted for her – and it appears she lost Maricopa and Pima Counties. Hardly a mandate.

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