POLITICS

Arizona Candidate Who Called Welfare Recipients 'Lazy Pigs' Loses Re-election Bid

Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal announces that the Tucson Unified School District violates state law by teaching its Mexican American Studies Department's ethic studies program at a news conference at the Arizona Department of Education Wednesday, June 15, 2011, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal announces that the Tucson Unified School District violates state law by teaching its Mexican American Studies Department's ethic studies program at a news conference at the Arizona Department of Education Wednesday, June 15, 2011, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)  (AP)

The Arizona superintendent who called people on government assistance “lazy pigs” and said the state should ban Spanish-language media lost his bid for a second term on Tuesday.

Arizona’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, John Huppenthal, had admitted to writing an anonymous blog some found offensive – but he downplayed the role it played in his loss on Tuesday.

Huppenthal attributed his loss to the Common Core issue. His opponent in the Republican primary, Diane Douglas, focused almost of all her campaign on repealing the Obama administration-supported Common Core education standards.

“We feel fine,” he said. “We understand that the Common Core issue was a raging forest fire.”

The GOP contest normally would have received little attention, but it was transformed when his rants on the Internet were made public. He apologized for the posts in June after admitting he had written them while serving as the state’s chief education official.

In one post dating from 2011, Huppenthal wrote, “We need to stomp out balkanization. No Spanish radio stations, no Spanish billboards, no Spanish TV stations, no Spanish newspapers. This is America, speak English.”

He also said he didn’t mind Mexican restaurants but thought they should have restrictions.

“I don’t mind them selling Mexican food as long as the menus are mostly in English,” he wrote in one post. “And I am not being humorous or racist.”

Huppenthal also called those who receive public assistance “lazy pigs” who mooch off the government despite having flat-screen TVs in their living rooms. He compared the Planned Parenthood founders to Nazis.

Huppenthal broke down in tears at a June news conference as he apologized for his actions, and said that anonymous discourse has long been a cornerstone of Democracy. He offered to drop out of the primary race but did not.

Huppenthal has been forced into an awkward position on Common Core. He had 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.

In the November election, Douglas will face David Garcia, an Arizona State University professor who defeated high school English teacher Sharon Thomas in the Democratic primary.

Garcia called Douglas a single-issue candidate without the necessary background in education for the post. He said he would work to get more funding and support for teachers.

"We need to get away from standardized testing and measure what matters," Garcia said.

The superintendent has a large role in determining state education policy along with the governor, the Legislature and the state Board of Education. The superintendent is a Board of Education member and oversees the state Department of Education, an agency whose main job is to funnel funding to school districts and charter schools.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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