Now that the initial midterm emotions are cooling off, it’s time to look at the minor races we’ve been watching, especially one unusually hot contest in sunny California. The battle for the state’s superintendent of schools got so tense and saw such an outpouring of campaign spending ($30 million, or triple the amount spent on the governor’s race) that some started calling it the state’s most important race. All for a post that, as the WaPo points out, has little real power; he’s gotta do what the school board tells him.But if the post itself isn’t powerful, its symbolism is another matter. This race was all about the unions, and the blow they sustained from the now-famous Vergara v. California decision, in which an L.A. judge ruled that teacher tenure rules were unfair to the interests of minority students. The challenger in this race, school reform leader Marshall Tuck, made his support for that ruling a centerpiece of his campaign. He was endorsed by the plaintiffs in the case and received a big influx of cash from major school reform backers, including Michael Bloomberg and the Walton family. But in the end, he lost.The incumbent and winner, Tom Torlakson, a former teacher himself, enjoyed the full support of California’s teachers’ unions. He also launched one of the appeals against the Vergara decision, which Tuck had promised to quash if he had won the seat. This race came to be seen as a key indicator of whether California teachers’ unions could rebound from the court loss, as well as a bellwether for school reform fights far beyond California’s borders.With Torlakson’s win, teachers’ unions in California will be resting a little bit easier. But not, perhaps, for long. Fromer L.A. mayor Anthony Villaraigosa is reportedly planning on running for Governor, and he will presumably make school reform a key campaign issue, writes Dan Schnur in the Wall Street Journal. (Indeed, Villaraigosa endorsed Tuck, who has advised him on education policy.) Schnur predicts that this showdown will be a bitter one for the blue coalition: “The battle over education reform has the potential to split the Democratic Party as profoundly as immigration, abortion, and marriage equality have divided Republicans.” We’re not there yet, but the cracks are definitely starting to show.