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Diane Douglas loses GOP primary race for state schools superintendent

(Milken Family Foundation Photo)

PHOENIX — Incumbent state Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas has lost her bid to keep her job, finishing behind winner Frank Riggs and another candidate in Arizona’s GOP primary.

Riggs and second-place finisher Bob Branch were separated by fewer than 400 votes, according to the Arizona Secretary of State’s office.

Douglas had been locked in third place ahead of Tracy Livingston and Jonathan Gelbart, with just over 121,000 votes. All but Gelbart had captured at least 20 percent of the votes.

The close voting put Riggs at 21.8 percent, 21.7 percent for Branch and 21.2 percent for Douglas. Livingston had about 20 percent.

“Each of my competitors had a certain appeal to a certain constituency and we effectively split the Republican vote,” Riggs told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Wednesday.

“I’m certainly hoping now that I am the nominee that I can unify that Republican vote going into the general election.”

By the close of primary day Aug. 28, Riggs led the field, followed by Branch and Douglas. Their places did not change over the next week.

Riggs ran for governor in the 2014 primary. He finished last of six candidates.

Douglas was sworn into office in January 2015. She struggled to beat Democrat David Garcia in the general election with 50.5 percent of the votes to 49.5 percent. She’d easily beaten officeholder John Huppenthal in the primary, 58.4 percent of the votes to 41.6 percent.

Her tenure was marked by confrontations with the state Board of Education, a public spat with Gov. Doug Ducey, and a brief recall effort.

Riggs will face Democrat Kathy Hoffman in the fall election.

He has run a nonprofit that helped charter schools with funding. The Army veteran was a congressman in California, where he chaired a subcommittee on early childhood and sponsored the Charter School Expansion Act, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1998.

Hoffman, a teacher, defeated former state senator and Tempe Councilman David Schapira, 52 percent for 47 percent.

Editor’s note: The results of the primary election were made official on Sept. 10, according to Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan. 

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