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Tom Torlakson outspent Larry Aceves 5-to-1

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson‘s 2010 campaign outraised and outspent his rival’s in last year’s election by about 5-to-1, according to campaign finance reports filed last night.

Larry AcevesThe longtime lawmaker from Antioch raised about $2.47 million and spent about $2.49 million in 2009-10, while the campaign of Larry Aceves, a former school administrator from Fremont, raised about $504,000 and spent about $501,000.

The candidates’ campaign committees don’t tell the whole story, however – each had substantial independent expenditures made on his behalf.

The Association of California School Administrators funded an independent expenditure committee supporting Aceves to the tune of almost $2.46 million in 2009-10.

Still, Torlakson had the money advantage: An IE committee created in May by the California Federation of Teachers, the California Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association spent about $3.95 million in 2010 on his behalf.

Torlakson and Aceves were the top two vote-getters in a crowded field of 12 candidates in June’s primary; Aceves actually finished on top with 19.2 percent of the vote to Torlakson’s 18.6 percent. But in November’s runoff for the nonpartisan seat, Torlakson dominated with 54.6 percent of the vote to Aceves’ 44.9 percent (as a write-in candidate drew off 0.5 percent of the vote).

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Contra Costa school leaders endorse Aceves

Aceves

Aceves

Torlakson

Torlakson

CORRECTION 9/10/2010: Mt. Diablo Unified School District Superintendent Steve Lawrence was incorrectly listed in the news release among the names of those that endorse Aceves, per Contra Costa Superintendent of Schools Joe Ovick.

Contra Costa County Superintendent of Schools Joe Ovick and more than a dozen other area school superintendents have endorsed Larry Aceves for state Superintendent of Public Instruction over local candidate and state Assemblyman Tom Torlakson.

The list includes top executives at the Mt. Diablo, Acalanes, San Ramon Valley and Walnut Creek school districts.

The local superintendents said they wanted an experienced superintendent at the post. Aceves is a retired school superintendent while Torlakson was a high school before he began a long career as a county and state lawmaker. He has also worked as a community college teacher during his legislative term.

Read full release below:

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Sup’t of Public Instr. ballot fight in court today

A Sacramento County Superior Court judge is likely to rule later today, after a 3:30 p.m. hearing, on a lawsuit challenging state Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Larry Aceves’ ballot designation as a “Retired School Superintendent.”

Larry AcevesAceves, 66, a Fremont Democrat, is competing with Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, for the nonpartisan office in November’s general election.

This lawsuit was filed last Wednesday against Secretary of State Debra Bowen (who approved the designation) not by Torlakson’s campaign, but by Torlakson campaign donor Betty Sue Cleveland of Livermore, a life member of and political organizer for the California School Employees Association – which supports Torlakson’s campaign. (Here’s someone’s Flickr shot of Torlakson and Cleveland together at a CSEA event earlier this month.)

Cleveland is represented by the Los Angeles-based Kaufman Legal Group, whose client list is a who’s who of Southern California labor and Democratic politics; there’s no requirement that Cleveland or her attorneys disclose who’s bankrolling the lawsuit, and neither have done so.

California Election Code Section 13107(a)(3) says a candidate is entitled to a ballot designation of “(n)o more than three words designating either the current principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate, or the principal professions, vocations, or occupations of the candidate during the calendar year immediately preceding the filing of nomination documents.”

The lawsuit claims Aceves has done something else as his principal vocation since working as a school superintendent from 1991 to 2006; he was a partner in Leadership Associates – an employment search and placement firm focusing on school district managers – from 2006 through 2009.

Bowen contends she has no way to independently verify what Aceves has done since retiring as a superintendent. And Aceves contends he worked no more than 210 hours for Leadership Associates during the three years he was a partner there, and was drawing retirement benefits all through that time, so his designation is sound.

The deadline for a ruling draws nigh; tomorrow (Thursday, Aug. 26) is the day Bowen is supposed to send county registrars a certified list of candidates with ballot designations.

Torlakson’s ballot designation, by the way, is “Teacher/California Legislator.” Torlakson, 61, holds a secondary teaching credential and a Master’s degree in education from the University of California, Berkeley, but has held elected office for a loooong time – as an Antioch councilman from 1978 to 1981; a Contra Costa County supervisor from 1980 to 1996; an Assemblyman from 1996 to 1999; a state Senator from 2000 to 2008; and an Assemblyman again since 2009.

The League of Women Voters’ SmartVoter.org site says he hasn’t worked at the Mt. Diablo Unified School District in 30 years. He says he’s on the faculty at Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, but I don’t see his name in the faculty directory. I do, however, see that he’s teaching a one-credit “short course” this fall – six lectures of about three hours each – on California politics and governance.

UPDATE @ 10:48 A.M. THURSDAY: Aceves won.

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One-stop shopping for Democratic candidates

The Coalition of Bay Area Young Democrats, conjunction with the San Francisco Young Democrats, will host a massive candidates’ forum at 1 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 6 at the SEIU Local 87 hall, 240 Golden Gate Ave. in San Francisco.

Free and open to the public, the forum aims to hear from, and give attendees a chance to ask questions of, candidates in some of 2010’s highest-profile races. Confirmed speakers include gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown; lieutenant governor candidate Janice Hahn; Attorney General candidates Kamala Harris, Chris Kelly, Pedro Nava and Alberto Torrico; incumbent state Treasurer Bill Lockyer; Insurance Commissioner candidates Hector De La Torre and Dave Jones; Superintendent of Public instruction candidates Larry Aceves and Tom Torlakson; and incumbent Board of Equalization member Betty Yee.