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Wed, Dec. 11

Riggs GOP nominee for schools chief

Frank Riggs (Capitol Media Services 2014 file photo by Howard Fischer)

Frank Riggs (Capitol Media Services 2014 file photo by Howard Fischer)

PHOENIX – The Republican Party finally has its nominee for superintendent of public instruction.

Final unofficial vote tallies show former California Congressman Frank Riggs with 124,666 votes, edging out Bob Branch who has been involved in teaching educators. Branch wound up with 124,307 votes.

By law, a recount is necessary only if the margin of victory is fewer than 200 votes.

Incumbent Diane Douglas managed to tally just 121,168, with Tracy Livingston at 115,475 and Jonathan Gelbart at 85,311.

The results will be made official on Monday.

That sets the stage for a general election with Democrat Kathy Hoffman, a teacher, who edged out former state Rep. David Schapira.

Riggs, who represented a California congressional district for six years, made his first foray into Arizona politics in 2014 in his bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, coming in dead last in the six-way race.

While in Congress, he sponsored legislation to expand charter schools.

While much of the primary campaign featured challengers attacking Douglas and her record, the question of teaching evolution versus creationism also came up, particularly after Douglas had proposed making changes in the science curriculum.

Riggs said during the campaign he believes that the scientific theory of evolution belongs in anthropology or biology classes. But he also had a religious spin of sorts in what students should learn.

"They absolutely have to learn that our Founding Fathers believed in a Creator – they put it in the Declaration of Independence,'' he said.

Riggs said that, as well as the concept of "intelligent design,'' should be taught in history and government classes, even if it means having one theory taught in science class and another in civics.

Hoffman, by contrast, called it "appalling'' that Douglas sought to remove several references to the word "evolution'' from the science standards.

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