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Larry Aceves.JPGLarry Aceves - the surprise contender for superintendent of public instruction - is a lifelong Democrat who re-registered as a decline-to-state voter about two weeks ago.

Did the novice politician switch as an invitation to non-Democrats to choose him in November for the non-partisan job? "Absolutely," said Aceves, who spent many years as a local school superintendent in the San Jose area.

Aceves said Thursday he had been thinking of changing his voter registration for some time now because the office he seeks is non-partisan. In the end, he said, "people just want to know: 'What are you going to do for my kid?' "

Last June, Aceves shook up the California political scene when came in first in a primary election that included two seasoned Democratic legislators among a crowded field. He had never run for office before.

Backed by the Association of California School Administrators, Aceves won 19 percent of the votes in June. That fell far short of the more than 50 percent needed to win outright.

But the shocker was that Aceves bested - by a percentage point - Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, who was backed by the California Teachers Association and won 17 percent.

Aceves' first-place finish also knocked another political veteran out of the race: Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles. Romero was backed by pro-charter school activists, and was trying to ride a wave of pro-charter school sentiment coming from the Obama White House.

Aceves and Torlakson now have to fight for that large pool of votes neither got in June.

Torklakson has the endorsement of the California Democratic Party, and a number of key Democratic legislators who had supported Romero.

PHOTO CREDIT: Larry Aceves. Associated Press file photo.


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