Lance Christensen closes in on facing Tony Thurmond in runoff for state superintendent
With about 5% of the 7 million ballots cast still to be counted, Lance Christensen, a conservative education policy analyst, is the presumptive second place finisher who will challenge incumbent Tony Thurmond in the November election for California superintendent of public instruction.
With 11.7% of the vote, Christensen has built a 35,000 vote lead over Ainye Long, a San Francisco Unified math teacher, and a 44,000 vote lead over George Yang, a software engineer from Redwood City. On Election night, Christensen trailed both by a few thousand votes, but gained daily as final mail-in and provisional ballots were counted.
As of Thursday, 18 days since the primary election in pursuit of his second and final term, Thurmond has 46.2% – 2.8 million votes. He needed at least 50% of the vote in the primary to avoid a runoff election, one of two statewide constitutional offices with that requirement.
In the latest results, the secretary of state’s office reported that 376,000 out of 7 million votes cast remained to be counted. The final day for all disputed ballots to be reported is July 18. Counties with the most uncounted votes are San Diego, 69,000; Sacramento, 61,000; San Mateo, 44,000; and Kern, 43,000.
Christensen is vice president of education policy for the California Policy Center. He previously held several positions in the state Capitol, as a legislative consultant in the state Senate, adviser to former Republican Sen. John Moorlach, and a finance budget analyst for the Department of Finance. A late entrant to the race, he raised only $39,000 in the primary, compared with $2 million by Thurmond, and will have to start again from scratch.
He helped to draft wording this year for an Education Savings Account, a school choice initiative that would have provided families with $15,000 for tuition and expenses to attend a private school of their choice. The proposal was withdrawn before it could qualify for the November ballot.
Christensen is expected to make school choice a campaign issue.