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California school Superintendent Tony Thurmond launches 2026 run for governor

SACRAMENTO – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced that he has entered the race to succeed Gavin Newsom as California governor in 2026.

"I'm running for governor to be a voice for those who need one — because California may be working for millionaires and billionaires — but for the rest of California — we need real change," Thurmond said in a campaign video posted Tuesday.

The top official of the state's public schools also discussed his life story in the video, recalling how he was orphaned at the age of six and grew up in poverty.

"California has had a lot of governors. My story is nothing like theirs," the video begins, showing clips of former governors Ronald Reagan, Pat Brown and Jerry Brown. "I didn't come from money. Power. Or influence."

He also credited the state's public schools for giving him opportunities to pursue careers in education and social work.

Thurmond's career in public office started in the East Bay, first on the Richmond City Council and then on the West Contra Costa School Board.

He was elected to the California State Assembly in 2014. In 2018, Thurmond was elected Superintendent of Public Instruction, narrowly defeating charter school advocate Marshall Tuck.

Thurmond was re-elected in a landslide four years later.

In his campaign message, Thurmond listed several priorities, including a raise in the minimum wage, more housing and pathways to homeownership, along with public schools that are "fully funded" and higher pay for teachers.

While the superintendent is officially a nonpartisan office, Thurmond is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. At least two other Democrats, Lt. Gov. Eleni Koulinakis and former State Controller Betty Yee have announced their campaigns to run for governor in 2026.

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