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Tom Horne wins race for Arizona schools chief, ousting Kathy Hoffman

Tom Horne wins race for Arizona schools chief, ousting Kathy Hoffman

  • Tom Horne at a debate for Republican candidates for superintendent of public instruction.
    Screenshot via Arizona Citizens Clean Elections CommissionTom Horne at a debate for Republican candidates for superintendent of public instruction.

Republican Tom Horne will be Arizona’s new superintendent of public instruction, emerging victorious from a contest with Democratic incumbent Kathy Hoffman that saw the lead change hands several times since Election Day. 

As of Thursday afternoon, Horne had 50.2% of the vote to Hoffman’s 49.8%, with 9,014 votes separating them. 

Under a new state law, which triggers an automatic recount when the difference in votes between two candidates in a race is 0.5% or less, this race is likely set for a recount.

The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office estimated at that time, there were fewer than 14,000 more ballots left to count across the state.

Once he takes office, Horne told the Arizona Mirror that his first priority will be focusing on academics and raising student test scores. 

Hoffman conceded Thursday morning, thanking her supporters, campaign team and her family. 

“Serving as Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction has been among the greatest honors of my life,” Hoffman said in a tweet. “I’m proud of the incredible work we did. I remain more inspired than ever by the amazing students, educators, & schools across our state. Our future is bright because of you.”

Horne said that Hoffman was gracious in her concession and that he hoped to have a good relationship with her going forward. 

Horne plans to appoint Christine Accurso as the executive director of the Empowerment Scholarship Account Division of the Department of Education, the division that oversees the state’s recently expanded universal voucher program. Accurso is a prominent advocate for school choice who worked against an effort to block the expansion of school vouchers in Arizona. 

“I am honored to serve Superintendent-Elect Tom Horne & the State of Arizona at the Dept. of Education,” Accurso said in a tweet. “For years, my family has greatly benefited from Arizona’s ESA program, and we have seen firsthand the great impact it has had for parents and students of all walks of life. Families deserve educational choice to help shape and mold the futures of their precious children. I am thrilled to join a committed team that will safeguard school choice for the next generation of Arizonans.”

Horne previously served as superintendent of public instruction from 2003 to 2011 and was the Arizona attorney general from 2011 to 2015. An independent investigation later found that Horne improperly used staff in the attorney general’s office in his unsuccessful 2014 reelection campaign. 

Before that, he served in the state legislature. 

During his campaign, Horne promised to get rid of the teaching of critical race theory in schools, saying he would set up a hotline to report teachers who use CRT in their classrooms.  He also aims to put an end to bilingual education for students who are learning to speak English, something he worked on during his first two terms as superintendent.

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.

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