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Politics & Government

These 7 candidates want to lead NC public schools. Where are they getting their money?


Two candidates running for state schools superintendent head into Tuesday’s primary election having raised significantly more money than their opponents.

Democrat Jen Mangrum and Republican Craig Horn have each raised $50,000 more than their nearest competitor in their bids to win their party nominations next week. They’re competing for the seat being vacated by Superintendent Mark Johnson, who was elected in 2016 but is running for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor instead of seeking re-election.

The magic number in the five-person Democratic primary is for the top finisher to get at least 30% of the vote to avoid a runoff election. With only two Republicans, the top vote getter moves automatically to the November general election.

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Crowded Democratic field for superintendent

Mangrum is a former K-12 teacher who is now an associate professor at UNC Greensboro’s School of Education. Campaign finance reports due this week shows she’s raised $121,350 this election and spent $114,778. Mangrum’s big donors include $5,000 from former US. Deputy Commerce Secretary Luther Hodges and $5,000 apiece from big-time Democratic donors John Campbell and Ann Campbell. She also got $5,000 from the Lillian’s List PAC, which says its mission is to elect “pro-choice, progressive women candidates.”

James Barrett, a Chapel HIll-Carrboro school board member and software engineer, has raised $69,260 and spent $68,418. The majority of his money, $37,291, has come from Barrett and his wife. He also received the maximum $5,400 donation from Georgia Kebschull, a Chapel Hill retiree.

Keith Sutton, the chairman of the Wake County school board and the founder of an education consulting firm, has raised $67,179 and spent $65,055. His big donors include $5,000 from Capitol Broadcasting Company CEO James Goodmon and $2,620 from Tamara Sterling, the superintendent of Franklin City Public Schools in Virginia.

Michael Maher, a former K-12 teacher who is now president of the North Carolina Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators, has raised $49,853 spent $44,527, A third of the money received, $16,372, has come from Maher and his wife.

The latest campaign finance report isn’t in yet for Constance Lav Johnson, a former K-12 teacher, school counselor and school administrator who now owns CityPolitical magazine. On her last report, she reported raising $20,802 as of the end of 2019.

Republicans compete to run NC schools

Horn, a retired food broker and state lawmaker since 2011, is running in the Republican primary against Catherine Truitt, a former K-12 teacher who is now chancellor of Western Governors University North Carolina, an online university.

Horn loaned himself $25,000 of the $71,701 he’s raised and spent $7,131. His big donors include $5,400 apiece from SAS CEO Jim Goodnight and his wife, Ann Goodnight, and $5,400 from UNC Board of Governors member Anna Spangler Nelson. Horn’s other big-time Republican donors include $5,000 apiece from conservative businessman Art Pope and his wife, Katherine, and $2,000 from conservative businessman Bob Luddy.

Truitt has raised $11,981 and spent $11,136. Truitt has provided her campaign most of its money at $8,706.


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