Valerie Strauss summarizes the race between Marshall Tuck and Tony Thurmond.

Tuck has raised nearly $30 million from the billionaires who support charter schools; Thurmond has raised about $15 million, mostly from labor unions, teachers, and Democrats.

Tuck is supported by the Republican party. Although he claims to be a Democrat, he was booed at the state Democratic convention.

She writes:

One of the loudest and most expensive state races in the country is between two Democrats vying to win the nonpartisan position of superintendent of public instruction in California. More money is being spent on the race — for a position that has no independent policymaking power — than in most U.S. Senate campaigns.

The fight — the costliest in the state’s history for this post, with more than $43 million in campaign contributions, according to EdSource — is between state legislator Tony Thurmond and Marshall Tuck, a former charter school network president.

Thurmond, who was elected to the California State Assembly in 2014 from the East Bay, has been a teacher, social worker, city councilman and school board member. Tuck is a former banker who became the first president of the Green Dot network of charter schools in Los Angeles. After that, he founded a nonprofit that used privately donated money from the wealthy to help turn around troubled traditional public schools. Four years ago, he ran unsuccessfully for state superintendent in a race that cost some $30 million (with a lot of it coming from billionaires backing Tuck)…

The fight between Thurmond and Tuck is the latest chapter in a long-running debate about public education in a state with a scandal-ridden charter school sector and severely underfunded traditional school districts. California has more charter schools — which are publicly funded but privately operated — and more charter students than any state.

Should Tuck win, supporters of charter schools will take heart. If Thurmond triumphs, supporters of traditional public education will.

Tuck has raised far more than Thurmond, about $5 million in direct contributions, compared with $3.1 million for Thurmond, according to the Associated Press. Most of the money in the race has gone through political committees that can accept unlimited amounts of money but are not allowed to coordinate with the campaigns. In this arena, Tuck is far ahead, with two committees backing him taking in $24.1 million, according to Ed Source, with a committee supporting Thurmond’s bid taking in $11.5 million so far.

Much of Tuck’s contributions have come from billionaires who support charter schools and many who live out of state. Wealthy donors include Michael Bloomberg of New York; Eli Broad of Los Angeles; and Alice Walton of Texas, who has donated millions of dollars to his campaigns over a period of years. Netflix chief Reed Hastings and Gap founder Doris Fisher have also donated. And, not surprisingly, he is backed by the California Charter Schools Association (which celebrated the controversial 2017 confirmation of Betsy DeVos as U.S. education secretary).

We will find out in a few days whether out of state billionaires can buy the race.