CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Fresh off a Republican primary victory, state schools superintendent candidate Jillian Balow says her campaign will be readjusting its focus for the general election.
Balow, a former teacher and education official, beat two opponents Tuesday on a campaign that included blaming current Republican Superintendent Cindy Hill for much of the political turmoil in Wyoming’s K-12 education system. One of Balow’s primary opponents is a close associate of Hill.
But with her primary win, Balow said she is looking to put that part of the education debate in the “rear-view mirror.”
“We’ve had some important debates, some important topics and unfortunately they’ve kind of overtaken the discussion about education,” she said Wednesday. “So in the general we’re really going to focus on that. We’re really going to focus on what we need to do to move forward, and we’re not going to look back.”
Balow advanced to the general election against Mike Ceballos, who was unopposed in Tuesday’s Democratic primary.
Ceballos said Wednesday that the primary results indicate “that voters want a break from the past and they’re looking for a leader who they can trust, and focus on
results instead of all the conflict that’s seemed to be the lost last three and a half years.”
Hill’s tenure as superintendent has been marked by a testy political fight with the Republican-dominated Legislature and GOP Gov. Matt Mead over her administration of the state Department of Education. Hill challenged Mead for governor, but she finished a distant third behind the governor on Tuesday.
One of Hill’s top deputies at the state education department, Sheryl Lain, ran against Balow for superintendent and defended Hill’s administration of the agency.
Balow said she feels confident heading into the general election “that we have a message that’s based on solutions and expertise and experience and that I’ll be able to positively impact education in Wyoming for years to come — and the voters recognize that as well.”
Without a primary race, Ceballos said all the attention focused on the GOP candidates for the past few months was a challenge for his campaign.
“We really did work hard on the campaign to make sure we weren’t going to be starting behind at the end of the primary, so we did a lot of paid media to make sure we were keeping up with folks,” said Ceballos, a retired telephone company executive.