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Casey overcomes misgivings, endorses Luna

Retired Coeur d’Alene High School principal Steve Casey, who lost to businessman Tom Luna in the GOP primary election for school superintendent in May, endorsed Luna today despite earlier expressing misgivings about Luna’s qualifications for the job. “We did have some spirited debates along the campaign trail,” Casey said. But Casey said he was impressed that Luna had “moderated” his positions on some education issues and is “a great listener.” He declared, “I believe that we need a change in direction, and I believe that Mr. Tom Luna will bring that change in direction and I am supporting his campaign.”

Last spring, the day after the primary election, Casey said, “Personally, I think that person ought to have an educational background, and I find it difficult for a person without an educational background to be the chief school officer for the state of Idaho. I said that during the campaign, and I’ll say that now – I think that’s inappropriate.” Luna, if elected, would become the first-ever non-educator to serve as Idaho’s state superintendent of schools. He faces Democrat Jana Jones, the current chief deputy superintendent, in next Tuesday’s election. An Idaho Statesman-KIVI-TV poll released on Sunday showed the race a statistical dead heat, with Jones in the lead, 40-37 percent.

Luna said he and Casey will campaign together for the next few days. “Steve has some great ideas,” Luna said. Asked if he’s planning to give Casey a job in his office if he’s elected state superintendent, Luna said, “You know, that hasn’t been discussed. That’s definitely not what this is about – he’s retired, I don’t know what his future plans are.”

Casey said, “I look forward to being with Tom and bouncing ideas off him and vice versa. I tried that retirement thing since May 23rd. I have more to give.”

Casey said it was watching Luna and Jones debate on Idaho Public TV that convinced him to endorse Luna. That debate included a protracted argument about HJR 2, the anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment, which Luna spoke out in favor of and criticized Jones for not backing. But Casey said that didn’t have anything to do with his decision. “I thought, whether you like it or whether you don’t, I think Tom’s ideas are innovative, they initiate discussions, they get you thinking about issues, and unless you get people to the table things don’t happen,” Casey said.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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