Election Roundup: Winners, Losers, and the Education Connection

From the U.S. Senate and campaigns for governor to ballot measures and contests for state superintendent, education issues figured in high-profile races around the nation. Here are some highlights.

Election Roundup: Winners, Losers, and the Education Connection

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K-12 education was a factor in scores of high-profile races this midterm election, from contests for governors and U.S. Senate to state schools superintendents. Voters also faced education-related ballot measures touching on issues including funding, school choice, infrastructure, and governance. Here are some highlights, with results in some races to be updated.

Governors' Races | Ballot Measures | State Superintendents | U.S. Senate Races | Educator Spotlight

Key:    Won   |   * Incumbent

| Governors' Races


David Garcia (D)
Garcia, an education professor, pledged to close tax loopholes for corporations, scrap tax credits for private school tuition, and potentially impose new taxes on the wealthy.

Doug Ducey (R)*
Ducey, the incumbent governor, promised to boost educators’ salaries by 20 percent by 2020, but also pledged to cut taxes.

Read more >


Jared Polis (D)
Polis, a congressman, said he would like to stabilize school funding in Colorado.

Walker Stapleton (R)
Stapleton, the state treasurer, sought to expand school choice in the state.


Andrew Gillum (D)
Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor, sought to strengthen gun laws, raise teachers’ salaries, and provide a $1 billion boost for public schools.

Ron DeSantis (R)
DeSantis, a congressman, pledged to roll back some new gun-control measures, and expand the state’s tuition tax credit program.


J.D. Pritzker (D)
Democratic billionaire Pritzker ran partly on a platform to pour more money into the state’s school system.

Bruce Rauner (R)*
Rauner, the incumbent, was attacked over a years-long battle to replace that state’s school funding formula.


Laura Kelly (D)
Kelly, a state senator, favors complying with the a state supreme court order to find new money for public schools or see the schools shut down.

Kris Kobach (R)
Kobach, the secretary of state, had said he would fight that decision and seek to make even deeper tax cuts.

Read more >


Tim Walz (D)
A congressman and former high school teacher, Walz sought to index future education budgets to inflation and cut down on class sizes.

Jeff Johnson (R)
Johnson, a county commissioner, favored vouchers or tax-credits school choice options and a “parent trigger” law letting families force big changes on low-performing schools.

New Mexico

Michelle Lujan Grisham (D)
Lujan Grisham, a congresswoman, campaigned on getting rid of the state’s A through F grading system, moving away from the state’s tough educator-evaluation system, better pay for teachers, and expanded pre-K.

Steve Pearce (R)
Pearce, a congressman, proposed getting rid of the state’s performance review system, but wanted to keep A through F grades. He backed greatly expanded school choice.


Drew Edmondson (D)
Edmondson, a former state attorney general, campaigned on increasing education funding and teacher pay.

Kevin Stitt (R)
Stitt, a businessman, would have opposed the tax hike the GOP-controlled legislature approved this year to raise teacher pay.


Tony Evers (D)
Evers, endorsed by the state’s teachers’ union, had pledged to boost education spending by more than $1.7 billion.

Scott Walker (R)
Walker made Wisconsin a right-to-work state, supported school choice, and cut taxes, leading to cuts to K-12 funding.

Read more >

| Ballot Measures


DEFEATED School Vouchers
Arizona Proposition 305, which would have expanded educational savings accounts, failed. ESAs let students use public dollars for services including private school tuition.

Read more >


DEFEATED Taxes for Education
Colorado Amendment 73 went down to defeat. It would have created a graduated income tax, increased taxes on those making more than $150,000, and boosted the state’s corporate tax rate by 1.37 percent. The money would have been used to increase financing for K-12, pre-K and full-day kindergarten.

Read more >

South Carolina

DEFEATED Elected State Chief
Voters rejected South Carolina Amendment 1, which would have required the governor to appoint the state superintendent of education. The state’s top education official will continue to be elected by voters.

Read more >

Rhode Island

APPROVED School Construction
A $250 million bond to rebuild local public schools won approval as part of a 10-year plan. Voters will be asked to approve another $250 million in 2022. The state money, combined with matching funds from municipalities, is expected to eventually total more than $2 billion.

| State Superintendents


Kathy Hoffman (D)
Speech pathologist, Peoria, Ariz., school district

Frank Riggs (R)
Former congressman, now a charter school executive


Marshall Tuck
Former president of Green Dot Public Schools, founding CEO of nonprofit Partnership for Los Angeles Schools

Tony Thurmond
Democratic state legislator, former social worker, local school board member, and Richmond, Calif., city council member

Read more >


Otha Thornton (D)
Military contractor, former president National PTA

Richard Woods (R)*
Former teacher and principal


Cindy Wilson (D)
High school government teacher

Sherri Ybarra (R)*
Former teacher, principal and district administrator


John Cox (D)
Superintendent of Peggs public school district

Joy Hofmeister (R)*
Former elementary school teacher

Larry Huff (I)
State education department director, college professor

South Carolina

Israel Romero (D)
(Withdrew before election)

Molly Spearman (R)*
Former music teacher, assistant principal and state legislator


Jillian Balow (R)*
Former teacher, Unopposed

| U.S. Senate Races


Krysten Sinema (D)
As a congresswoman, Sinema sponsored a bill to roll back annual testing in the Every Student Succeeds Act to just certain grade-spans. She’s supported the DREAM Act, which would open up a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children.

Martha McSally (R)
McSally, a congresswoman, wants stronger border control before she can support Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA, an Obama-era initiative that allowed so-called “Dreamers” to stay in the country.


Bill Nelson (D)*
Nelson, the incumbent, touted his record of pushing for science, technology, engineering, and math, or STEM, programs in the Senate.

Rick Scott (R)
Scott, currently Florida’s governor, ran on what he called a record of boosting academic outcomes in Florida, which this year was the only state to show significant improvement in math in 4th and 8th grade and in 8th grade reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.


Jon Tester (D)*
Tester, a former school board member, portrayed himself as a staunch opponent of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and sponsored a bill to roll back annual testing in ESSA to just certain grade-spans.

Matt Rosendale (R)
Rosendale, the state auditor, had no education section on his website, but told local media that he thinks education decisions are best made at the local level.


Phil Bredesen (D)
As governor from 2003 to 2011, Bredesen pushed through changes to the state’s teacher-evaluation system, helped overhaul the school funding formula and raise charter school cap, and put in place tougher high school graduation standards.

Marsha Blackburn (R)
Blackburn, a congresswoman, has called for “increasing charter school options, making home schooling easier, and supporting state and local control of education.” She’s also supported the A-plus Act, which would allow states to opt-out of any federal accountability requirements.


Beto O’Rourke (D)
O’Rourke voted in favor of the Every Student Succeeds Act, is staunchly against public funding for private schools, and proposed hiking K-12 spending.

Ted Cruz (R)*
Cruz pushed through language in a major tax overhaul bill allowing parents to use 529 college savings plans for private K-12 schools. He’s supported eliminating the U.S. Department of Education and the Common Core State Standards. He co-sponsored the A-plus Act. He voted against a version of ESSA when it came up in the Senate, but wasn’t around for the final vote on the law.

| Educator Spotlight

Jahana Hayes

Hayes, the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, won her race as Democratic nominee for an open U.S. House of Representatives seat, representing Connecticut’s 5th district. Hayes has called for more resources and training for teachers and opposes arming educators. She will be the first African-American woman to represent Connecticut in Congress.

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A version of this article appeared in the November 14, 2018 edition of Education Week as Election Roundup