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Charter School Backers Spent Millions on Statewide Races in 2018. They Still Lost Twice.

When former charter school executive Marshall Tuck called Assemblyman Tony Thurmond to concede over the weekend, it marked another defeat for charter-school advocates in California.

Thurmond was elected California’s top education official in the wave that led more liberal-leaning voters to cast ballots. Although both are Democrats, Thurmond had the party’s endorsement. He also was backed by teachers unions, who were outspent more than two-to-one.

Independent groups supporting Tuck spent more than $36 million this cycle. Prominent education reform supporters, including frequent political donor Bill Bloomfield, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and philanthropist Eli Broad were among the biggest contributors to those efforts. Tuck’s official campaign raised another $5 million.

“The group of people who have provided significant funding to candidates that are associated with a charter-friendly agenda have proven that they don’t have the ability to capture statewide offices,” said John Rogers, an education policy expert at UCLA.