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Early returns from the San Diego Unified school board race show middle school math teacher Kevin Beiser in the lead over incumbent Katherine Nakamura with nearly 37 percent of the vote to her 34 percent, likely setting up a November battle between the two.

That would mean the end of the road for Steve Rosen, a business owner who had financed his own campaign to the tune of $90,000, unless the numbers turn around as more ballots are tallied. The top two candidates in the June primary advance to the November election.

If the early numbers pan out for Beiser, it is an extraordinarily strong showing for a challenger in the school board race, where it is usually tough to unseat an incumbent. Another school board challenger, Scott Barnett, was thrilled just to be neck-and-neck with sitting school board member John de Beck, who called it one of the best showings he’d seen for a school board challenger.

Beiser has done even better.

The big numbers for both Barnett and Beiser seem to show that change is the buzzword in the school board race. Sitting school board members will have to seriously defend their turf. Whatever is happening in the school district right now, voters don’t seem to be happy with it.

Rosen posed a challenge from the political center, arguably to the right of Nakamura; Beiser fell to her left, winning endorsements from Democratic groups over Nakamura, a fellow Democrat who has been at odds with labor unions.

Rosen has staked his campaign on fixing the management of the school district.

Beiser has also stressed his business smarts, but the heart of his campaign is keeping class sizes small and bringing his savvy as a classroom teacher to the school board. While Rosen has criticized Nakamura for putting money for school construction behind the schoobrary, Beiser has criticized her for backing teacher layoffs.

Tesults are still rolling in. Rosen, for his part, says he doesn’t put much stock in the early results and is waiting until more ballots are counted. Stay tuned!


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