Two Leading Candidates To Vie for Calif. Schools Chief

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Despite a low turnout and widespread concerns about an upset, California primary voters last week sent the two leading candidates for superintendent of public instruction into the November general election.

Assemblywoman Delain Eastin, who heads that chamber's education committee, finished first by a comfortable margin in the 12-candidate field. She received 22 percent of the vote, according to state election officials.

Maureen DiMarco, Gov. Pete Wilson's secretary of child development and education, finished second with 14 percent.

Wilbert Smith, a former school board member who campaigned across the state for an unsuccessful school-voucher initiative last year, finished third with 12 percent. No other candidate received more than 10 percent.

Also last week, California voters set up what is expected to be the most fiercely fought gubernatorial battle of the year by picking State Treasurer Kathleen Brown as the Democratic challenger against the Republican Governor.

The election for schools chief may be a quieter affair, however, with both candidates apparently acceptable choices for most education groups. (See Education Week, June 1, 1994.)

Funding Fights Highlighted

Observers said they expect Ms. Eastin and Ms. DiMarco, both of whom are Democrats, to square off largely over the issues of experience and their work during the tenure of Governor Wilson.

Ms. Eastin, a former community-college teacher and corporate planner, has helped lead fights in the Assembly for education funding, a position that has brought her into conflict with the Wilson administration while earning favor with school groups.

During the primary, the California Teachers Association gave $35,000 to Ms. Eastin's campaign, while the California Federation of Teachers gave more than $13,000.

Ms. DiMarco was a classroom aide, a local school board member, and the president of the California School Boards Association before joining Mr. Wilson's Cabinet.

Ms. DiMarco has the endorsement of Wilson Riles, a former state superintendent, and her campaign has received $5,000 from the Association of California School Administrators.

To fend off Ms. Eastin's criticism of her role in the Wilson administration, Ms. DiMarco argues that she has been a forceful voice for maintaining school funding in an era of record budget deficits.

Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction William D. Dawson did not seek election to the post, which he inherited when Bill Honig, the three-term state chief, was convicted on felony conflict-of-interest charges and forced to step down.

Vol. 13, Issue 38

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