The Republic Masthead

Schools chief loses bid for 2nd term


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Indiana voters chose to retain two state Supreme Court justices and re-elected its top state attorney but booted its top educator from office.

Justices Steven David, who was an attorney in Columbus in the 1980s, and Robert D. Rucker were retained by wide margins. So was Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

However, Republican Tony Bennett lost his bid for a second term as Indiana’s schools superintendent to a lifelong educator backed by teachers unhappy with Bennett’s sweeping education overhaul.

Tuesday’s victory by Democrat Glenda Ritz, 52 to 48 percent, was seen as a victory for Indiana teachers who have felt Bennett blamed them for school failures. Many educators have opposed changes under Bennett that include expanding charter school access, limiting teachers’ collective bargaining and basing teacher pay raises on annual evaluations.

Superintendent of public instruction

Tony Bennett, R    56%

Glenda Ritz, D    44%

*Bartholomew County results

Attorney general

Kay Fleming, D    33%

Greg Zoeller, R    67%

*Bartholomew County results

Supreme Court

Shall Justice Steven H. David be retained in office?

Yes    72%

No    28%

Shall Justice Robert D. Rucker be retained in office?

Yes    74%

No    26%

Shall Judge John G. Baker be retained in office?

Yes    75%

No    25%

Shall Judge Nancy H. Vaidik be retained in office?

Yes    75%

No    25%

*Bartholomew County results

Bennett also pushed for the state’s private school voucher program and oversaw the first state takeover of troubled public schools.

Ritz has pledged to roll back many of Bennett’s changes, including a reading test that third-graders must pass to advance to fourth grade.

Ritz is an elementary school library media specialist in Indianapolis.

Tea Party groups and Libertarians took aim at David despite a lengthy and distinguished legal and Army career. They took exception to the majority Supreme Court opinion he wrote in 2011 about people’s rights to resist illegal police entry into their homes, even though state lawmakers this year made the decision moot by defining people’s rights to resist.

David, retained by a 69-31 “yes” to “no” percentage margin, was named by Gov. Mitch Daniels to the Indiana Supreme Court in October 2010 after lengthy careers as a private practice and corporate attorney, and Boone County Circuit Court judge.

“I was selected to be a guardian of the law, not to make it. I have long-pledged to protect the Constitution of Indiana, and I will continue to honor that oath with this 10-year vote of confidence,” David wrote in a statement emailed late Tuesday to The Republic. “I appreciate the voters’ trust in me, and I look forward to many more years of faithful public service to my fellow Hoosiers.”

A 1975 Columbus North High School graduate, David worked for Rich Eynon’s private law practice in Columbus as a clerk from 1980-82 and a lawyer from 1987-88. He also worked for the firm of Cline, King & King from 1986-87.

David served as the Boone Circuit Court judge from 1995 to 2010.

During his legal career, David also served nearly 30 years in the U.S. Army. In 2003, he was given the tall task of being the chief defense counsel for detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Zoeller defeated Democratic nominee Kay Fleming 59 to 41 percent to win a second four-year term.

He has overseen distribution of millions of dollars from the state to victims of last year’s deadly Indiana State Fair stage rigging collapse.

He’s defended in court a GOP-backed state law seeking to cut off much of Planned Parenthood’s government funding and joined other Republican state attorneys general in challenging the federal health care overhaul.

But he’s drawn the ire of some Republicans for declining to defend disputed portions of Indiana’s immigration law in federal court following a Supreme Court ruling invalidating a similar measure in Arizona.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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