Georgia School Superintendent Linda Schrenko may have started something in 1994.
The Republican upset tradition when voters failed to rubber stamp Democratic Gov.Zell Miller's pick, Democrat Werner Rogers, and chose her instead. Now, Schrenko's campaign for governor leaves the post vacant, and observers expect Georgia's school superintendent race to be the most expensive and competitive in memory.
Education Commission on the States, policy analyst, Charles Merit says Georgia's "is the race to watch. Linda Schrenko is running for the Republican Gubernatorial nomination which has elevated education issues to the forefront of that race, and by opening up the (superintendent) seat it drew a lot of candidates."
Nearly a dozen candidates are competing in the Peach State primary, which will be held in late August. They include Republican lawmaker Mitchell Kaye, Democrat Barbara Christmas, who heads the Professional Association of Georgia Educators and Democrat Joe Martin, a former Atlanta School board head.
Republican Dep. Minority Whip Kathy Cox, Democrat and professor Theresa Bey, Democrats Larry Wayne McNorton, Phyllis Turner, Peyton Williams Jr. and Libertarian Lynn Krogseng are also in the race.
Voters in Arizona, California, Georgia,Idaho, Oklahoma,Oregon, South Carolina and Wyoming will also choose a chief state school officer. Fourteen states elect the state education chief, and the 36 others are appointed by governors or state school boards.
At a time when state budget deficits threaten to cut education spending and new federal requirements must be implemented, the public has become more aware of the state superintendent's role.David Griffith of the National Association of State School Boards says parents are paying attention to these races.
"Parents are now aware of state tests and state standards and that these are under the prevue of the state board and state superintendent. That is why more attention is being paid to these races," he said.
Voters in Oregon dumped the current superintendent, Stan Bunn (R) in a recent non-partisan primary after ethics charges were lodged against him. His primary opponent, Susan Castillo (D), a state senator and former TV news reporter, is unopposed in the general election.
Here's who's running:
Arizona Primary Sept. 10, 2002
Jaime Molera (R)Current AZ Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Keith Bee (R) An ex-state Senator and owner of a school bus company.
Tom Horne (R) School board member and former State Representative.
Jay Blanchard (D)State Senator and college professor.
Rod Rich (D)Junior High School Principal John Zajac, a libertarian.
Jack O'Connell (D)State Senator, former Assemblyman and teacher.
Kathy Smith (R) Board Of Education (Anaheim) President.
Primary August 20, 2002 Candidates:
Kathy Cox (R)State Representative and Teacher.
Mitchell Kaye (R)State House Deputy Minority Whip.
Theresa Bey (D)College professor.
Barbara Christmas (D)Leader of the state Teachers Association.
Joe Martin (D) Former Atlanta Board of Education President.
Larry Wayne McNorton (D) Elementary School Principal and teacher.
Phyllis Turner (D), Educator
Peyton Williams Jr. (D), Deputy State School Superintendent.
Lynn Krogseng Libertarian.
Tom Luna (R)former school board member (Nampa).
Robbi Kier Libertarian, accountant.
Primary August 20, 2002
Sandy Garrett (D)State School Superintendent.
Lloyd Roettger (R)College professor.
Susan Castillo (D) State Senator and former TV Reporter.
Inez Tenenbaum (D)State School Superintendent.
Dan Hiltgen (R)College Professor. Marva Manigault Libertarian, Teacher.
Primary August 20, 2002
Trent Blankenship (R), Carbon County School Superintendent.
John Mingle (R)Retired College Professor.
Jim Twiford (R) Former State Senate President.
Neil Waring (R), Teacher. Kathy Emmons (D), Director of Wyoming Children's Action Alliance.
Chris Shoults (D) Teacher. Rich Wiederspahn (D), Elementary School Principal.