Primary Update: Oklahoma Chief Janet Barresi Loses; Plus S.C. Results

By Alyson Klein — June 25, 2014 1 min read
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Janet Barresi, the current Oklahoma state superintendent, was walloped in the Sooner State’s GOP primary Tuesday by former state board member, Joy Hofmeister.

Barresi, a dentist who was elected to office in 2010, was initially a supporter of the Common Core State Standards. But later, her campaign manager declared the standards “dead in Oklahoma.” And that was before Gov. Mary Fallin, the sitting governor who sailed to victory in her own victory in the Republican primary Tuesday, signed a bill that would repeal the common-core standards in Oklahoma.

Barresi came under fire during her tenure for her championship of the state’s A through F grading system, which Hofmeister criticized as “not meaningful useful, or reliable,” according to the Associated Press.

Two Democrats will compete in an August run-off election for the chance to take on Hofmeister later this fall—John Cox and Freda Deskin.

Meanwhile, in South Carolina, Molly Spearman, a former member of the South Carolina legislature, and the current head of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators, won the GOP nomination, beating Sally Atwater in a run-off election.

Atwater and Spearman nearly tied in the original primary race earlier this month, with Spearman garnering 22.5 percent of the vote and Atwater, the widow of famed Republican strategist Lee Atwater, netting 21.9 percent. Both knocked out Meka Childs, a deputy superintendent who had the backing of Mick Zais, the state chief.

And in the Democratic run-off contest, Tom Thompson, the former dean of graduate studies at South Carolina State University, beat Shelia Gallagher, who advocated for legalizing and taxing marijuana to raise money for public schools. Thompson, came in second during the initial primary, but sailed to victory Tuesday with more than 60 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, in the Mississippi race for U.S. Senate, Sen. Thad Cochran, a Republican and longtime advocate of federal funding for literacy programs, beat back a challenge from Chris McDaniel, a tea-party-backed state senator, who said that Mississippi could afford to turn down millions in federal K-12 funding in order to retain control over its schools. McDaniel had also called the U.S. Department of Education unconstitutional.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.