With a few hours left until the official deadline, the Campaign to Recall Diane Douglas, Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction, says it didn’t gather enough signatures to get the recall measure put on a special election ballot.
“Our biggest problem was fundraising,” campaign chairman Max Goshert tells New Times. “We had to rely only on volunteers, and it’s very hard to coordinate thousands of people, which is why we fell short.”
The recall campaign put out an official statement this morning congratulating the approximately 1,250 volunteers for doing a great job of “spreading the word about who Diane Douglas is and why she is not fit for the office.”
“It speaks volumes to how frustrated the people of Arizona are about the state of education, and how they want to improve it,” Goshert says. “We did a good job bringing the spotlight on this and on Diane Douglas, and why the people of Arizona deserve something better.”
Though the official number of signatures will be released this evening, according to Goshert, the campaign collected about 40,000.
Douglas won her position by a narrow margin of 16,000 votes, and her victory immediately prompted tremendous outrage in the state. Having no background in education, she was seen as unqualified for the job.
"She ran for superintendent on a single issue — repealing Common Core — which she can't even do," Goshert told New Times earlier this year. "She kind of misled the voters on that. She made it seem like it was in her role that she would be able to repeal this as soon as she got to office."
Summarizing the decision to launch a recall effort 120 days ago, Goshert says, since Douglas took office, “She has done nothing to help schools, she has done nothing to help education in Arizona.”
What’s more, he adds, “She has no plan, and she’s not working on a plan.”
One of the campaign’s key criticisms of Douglas has been her failure to articulate a plan for improving education. “But 11 days after the recall started, she announced a plan to put $4 million into Arizona schools,” Goshert says proudly. “We take it as proof that our coalition pressured her.”
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He calls what happened since the recall began “an anomaly” in Arizona: “You don’t normally see thousands of people getting together [because they’re] frustrated with how things are with education and want something to be done.”
So was the recall effort a total failure?
Not at all, Goshert says: Thousands more people around the state are now familiar with the name Diane Douglas, “and three years down the road, the public will decide again [if they want her to be superintendent].”
Meanwhile, he adds, “We’re just going to keep putting pressure on her and let her know she’s going to be held accountable.”