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Assemblyman Tom Torlakson beat former school district superintendent Larry Aceves in a hard-fought battle for state schools chief that was marked by heavy spending from interest groups.

Torlakson, an Antioch Democrat, had captured 55 percent of the vote to Aceves' 45 percent with nearly 95 percent of precincts counted. He will succeed termed-out Jack O'Connell as superintendent of public instruction for a four-year term.

Torlakson was backed by more than $6 million in independent expenditures, primarily from teachers unions and other labor groups. Aceves benefited from more than $1.5 million spent by administrators on his behalf.



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