State education officials issued the most school board endorsements in 2023

In July and August 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and his opponent in that year’s gubernatorial election, Charlie Crist (D), both endorsed school board slates of candidates. 

NBC News’ Tyler Kincade wrote, “It was unusual to see a sitting governor wade into what are official nonpartisan races that historically have been overlooked by big donors and the national media.”

Since then, Ballotpedia has tracked and cataloged all state executive officials, or candidates for those offices, who issue endorsements in school board races.

In 2023, Ballotpedia identified 31 such endorsers who made 111 school board endorsements. That’s more endorsers than the seven in 2022 but fewer endorsements, down from 114.

The most active group of endorsers were state education officials—state superintendents, and members of state boards of education or regents—14 of whom, across five states, issued 36 endorsements in 2023.

Meanwhile, Governors and gubernatorial candidates were less active in 2023 than in 2022.

Ballotpedia identified 51 such endorsements in 2022, compared to 10 in 2023.

Four governors endorsed either one or two school board candidates in 2023: Mike Dunleavy (R-Alaska), Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R-Ark.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and Kevin Stitt (R-Okla.).

U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D), who is running for governor in Virginia, endorsed three candidates, and Semi Bird (R), a gubernatorial candidate in Washington, endorsed two.

While he did not endorse any candidates outright, last February, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) donated $500,000 to the state Democratic Party to support school board candidates.

The top five endorsers overall were:

  • Ohio Auditor Keith Faber (R), with 25 endorsements, 13 of whom won (52%)
  • Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R), who is running for the U.S. Senate this year, with 14 endorsements, five of whom won (36%)
  • Colorado Board of Education Member Steve Durham (R), with seven endorsements, six of whom won (86%)
  • Colorado Board of Education Member Kathy Plomer (D), with seven endorsements, five of whom won (71%)
  • Colorado Board of Education Member Stephen Varela (R), with seven endorsements, six of whom won (86%)

Endorsements of school board members by state executive officeholders and candidates, 2023