Top Arizona education official fights to keep job

PHOENIX - John Huppenthal's bid for a second term as superintendent of public instruction ran into a snag when he admitted making offensive anonymous postings while serving as Arizona's top education official. He finds out Tuesday if he can survive the mistake.

Huppenthal is running in the Republican primary against Diane Douglas, a former suburban school board member who has made repealing Common Core standards her main campaign issue.

She was given a gift when it was revealed that Huppenthal made anonymous rants on the Internet. He called welfare recipients "lazy pigs" who mooch off the government despite having flat-screen TVs in their living rooms, while comparing the Planned Parenthood founder to Nazis. He bashed Spanish-language media and said "This is America, speak English."

Huppenthal broke down in tears at a news conference in June as he apologized and said that anonymous discourse has long been a cornerstone of Democracy, citing examples of Founding Fathers who wrote under pseudoynms during the 18th century. He also said voters he encounters during campaign stops do not care about the controversy and worry more about the quality of education in Arizona.

The race has focused heavily on Common Core. Douglas fiercely opposes the program, calling it "top-down government control of our education system." Huppenthal has been forced into an awkward position on the issue. He has long backed Common Core, but said during a debate with Douglas that he "never supported the standards."

The standards have been adopted by most states and were approved by the state Board of Education with little opposition in 2010. But they have become a popular talking point in Republican primaries around the nation as GOP candidates court voters on the right.

Democrats are also choosing a candidate in the race to face the GOP winner.

Arizona State University professor David Garcia and high school English teacher Sharon Thomas are running on the Democratic side.

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