Democratic incumbent June Atkinson and Rep. Rick Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat, both announced Wednesday that they are running for state superintendent of public instruction.
Meanwhile Wake school board member John Tedesco, a Republican, said Wednesday that he'll announce Jan. 26 whether he'll also run for the position. But in his news release, Tedesco sounds a lot like a candidate, writing that the state education system and Democrats are failing students.
Atkinson, however, who is in her second term, touted successes, including increasing graduation rates from 58 percent to 78 percent during her tenure.
She also touted her credibility with the General Assembly:
"Our public schools are stretched to the limit now with their resources, and I want to continue to advocate and work with the General Assembly to help them understand the needs of our schools."
Glazier said he would do a better job than Atkinson at standing up to Republicans and would use the office as a bully pulpit to talk about the value of public education.
With data showing that 66 percent of students are not proficient in reading and the state is 49th in per-pupil spending, "it's time to change what we're doing."
Initially, Glazier said he would run only if Atkinson didn't and said she had told him she would decide by Thanksgiving.
But Thanksgiving came and went with no Atkinson decision, so Glazier started putting a campaign committee together.
"There comes a point at which you have to get prepared," he said.
On the Republican side, if Tedesco does decide to run, his primary opponents will be David Scholl, a Union County businessman and school board member, and Ray Martin, a teacher in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.
Fracking under study
North Carolina is in the midst of a months-long study on the pros and cons of shale gas exploration, looking at the environmental risks and social costs of the invasive industrial procedures. The study is expected to be ready in May, just in time for a General Assembly vote on the issue.
But Republican state Sen. Bob Rucho of Mecklenburg County, and other backers of natural gas exploration - who hope to see the legislation pass - aren't leaving anything to chance. So on Wednesday, they brought in their own experts for a committee hearing on fracking. The emphasis was on the benefits.
Speakers included an executive from Charlotte-based Piedmont Natural Gas and former industry consultant James Erb.
Erb suggested that state officials work in tandem with the American Petroleum Institute, the oil and gas industry lobby, to create model legislation and safety standards.
As it happens, the institute is already working on the issue. The group has scheduled an invitation-only workshop to strategize with selected lawmakers and staff Feb. 2 at the Raleigh Marriott City Center Hotel.
Rally today in Raleigh
The local affiliate of the liberal group MoveOn will hold a rally today outside President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters in Raleigh to ask the president to take a tougher stance against large banks.
The "Yes He Can" event is part of a national effort to ask Obama to order investigations of the banks' involvement in the housing crisis and reject an immunity agreement. "Participants will call on President Obama to stand with the 99 percent," the group said in a statement. The event is at 4:30 p.m. at the Organizing for America office, 130 E. Morgan St.
email@example.com or 919-829-4821