Community Blog: The EDge

The superintendent’s race: resetting the rumor mill

Tom Luna

State Superintendent Tom Luna

It didn’t take long for the speculation to begin.

Shortly after Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna named Idaho Leads Project co-director Roger Quarles as his chief deputy, the rumor mill got going. Is Luna planning to step aside, paving the way for Quarles to run in his place?

Luna quickly denied it, telling the Idaho Statesman’s Bill Roberts that he plans to seek a third term.

“I’ve made it clear I intend to run for re-election,” Luna said. “I am already raising money. I’ve made it clear that I think we are on the right track.”

Quarles told Roberts that he isn’t looking to run for superintendent at this time.

Roger Quarles, CIFS, studio portrait

Roger Quarles

Luna’s comments Monday aren’t too far out of line with what he told Idaho Education News in April. He said he would decide on his election plans by the end of the year — and said he is more likely to run if Gov. Butch Otter also decides to seek a third term. Otter has said he plans to seek re-election.

Enter state Sen. Branden Durst, D-Boise.

In a guest opinion picked up Tuesday by two prominent bloggers — Dave Oliveria at the Spokane Spokesman-Review and Dan Popkey at the Idaho Statesman — Durst says the game is afoot.

He says Luna is already telling Education Department staffers that he will not run again. Durst predicts Luna will take a private sector job — perhaps with Education Networks of America, the recipient of the multiyear WiFi contract awarded last week, or with online education vendor K12. In such a position, says Durst, Luna will continue “to attempt to push the same policies to other unsuspecting GOP-dominated statehouses and Quarles will no doubt run to replace Luna and continue the duping of Idahoans.”

BrandonDurst23

Sen. Brandon Durst, D-Boise

Full disclosure time: Idaho Education News is housed under the Idaho Leads Project.

And, by way of full disclosure, Durst also takes a few swipes at Idaho Education News and its staffers, including me.

We do think an elected official’s comments are worth noting, but we are not going to defend ourselves by getting into a laborious back and forth with the good senator. We will instead stand behind our commitment to cover K-12 policy and practice independently and thoroughly. We believe our journalism — which has been and is picked up by newspapers across the state — stands on its merits.

Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger at Idaho Education News (idahoednews.org). Kevin is a former Statesman editorial page editor, with 27 year's experience in Idaho journalism.

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