Republican superintendent runoff poised for recount: Georgia state executive elections review, 2014

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July 23, 2014

Georgia

By Maresa Strano

July 23, 2014 Election Review
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*Georgia State Superintendent of Schools

ATLANTA, Georgia: Former Decatur School Board Chairwoman Valarie Wilson was declared the Democratic nominee for Georgia State Superintendent of Schools over state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan late on election night, while the Republican runoff between chief academic officer for the state Department of Education Mike Buck and veteran Irwin County educator Richard Woods was too close to call. The latter contest remains a mystery as of midday of July 23.[1][2]

At 100% precincts reporting, Woods leads by 727 votes out of 397,790 cast, not accounting for provisional ballots.[3] Georgia law allows candidates to request a recount if the margin of victory is less than one percent, which in this case applies and will likely come to pass.[2]

The superintendent seat is the only open seat out of the ten state executive offices up for election in the 2014 electoral cycle. Rather than seek a second term as superintendent in 2014, first term Republican incumbent John Barge chose to run for governor. He was defeated by incumbent Gov. Nathan Deal in the Republican primary on May 20, 2014. Barge's term expires on January 12, 2015, when he will have to cede the superintendent's office to his elected successor.

The superintendent is charged by state law to "carry out and enforce all the rules and regulations of the State Board of Education and the laws governing the schools receiving state aid." Additionally, he is directed to make recommendations to the board on matters related to the "welfare and efficiency" of the public school system.[4]

Below, Ballotpedia has put together a recap of the Democratic and Republican runoffs for Georgia State Superintendent of Schools. The vote totals are unofficial.


Results

  • Democratic primary
Georgia State Superintendents of Schools, Democratic Primary Runoff, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngValarie Wilson 54.4% 73,740
Alisha Thomas Morgan 45.6% 61,882
Total Votes 135,622
Election Results via Georgia Secretary of State.
  • Republican primary
Georgia State Superintendents of Schools, Republican Primary Runoff, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngRichard Woods 50.1% 199,441
Mike Buck 49.9% 198,741
Total Votes 398,182
Election Results via Georgia Secretary of State.

Race background

See also: Georgia State Superintendent of Schools

Georgia voters faced six contested state executive primary races back in May, two of which, the Democratic and Republican primaries for Georgia State Superintendent of Schools, prompted runoffs.[5] Since neither field managed to produce a definitive victor—that is, no one received at least 50 percent of the primary vote—the top two vote-getters from each race had to face off on July 22 to decide who advances to the general election.

As the sole open state executive seat of the 2014 elections, the superintendent race was expected to draw a substantial lineup of hopefuls. Outgoing incumbent John Barge, a Republican first elected Georgia's state schools chief in 2010, decided to forgo a possible re-election bid this year, instead setting his sights on the governorship. Though a crushing defeat by current Gov. Nathan Deal in the GOP primary brought an early end to Barge's gubernatorial campaign, he is unable to join in the superintendent ballot after the fact. Barge's deviation was unique among the ten-man, all-Republican roster of Georgia state-row incumbents, all of whom are considered likely to be re-elected, and has exposed the superintendent's office as a target for Democrats—and/or women—looking to gain an incipient foothold in the executive branch of the state government.[6][7]

The open seat race has attracted additional media attention for its relevance to the nationwide zeitgeist issue of Common Core. Like in most states, the Georgia State Superintendent of Schools plays a critical role in the implementation of the controversial new education standards set forth by Common Core. Unsurprisingly, all the superintendent candidates have highlighted the issue in their campaign platforms and the four runoff candidates were scrutinized heavily for their associated stances.

Of the Republicans, Buck supports Georgia's persistent relationship with the standards, touting the stability Common Core can provide from year to year. Woods, however, has reservations about Common Core, saying if elected he would review both Common Core as well as the new Common Core-aligned "Georgia Milestones" testing regime currently deep in the development stage.[8]

On the Democratic side, both Wilson and Morgan supported staying the course on the state's implementation of Common Core during their primary campaigns. With that agreed upon, each candidate sought to prove she possessed superior qualifications for the job. Wilson, who finished first in the primary and edged out Morgan in the runoff, brings an established base of support among education authorities from her years as Decatur School Board Chairwoman and President of the Georgia School Boards Association. Wilson's campaign so far focused on promoting traditional public schools as well as her ample management experience. Wilson openly criticized Morgan's advocacy for school choice and voucher or school tax credit programs while serving in the state legislature.[9] Morgan more recently endeared herself to some influential Democratic establishment leaders for having championed a fight against an anti-Common Core bill in the Senate, but evidently it was not enough to negate her record on charter schools and other such right-of-center programs.[8]


Candidate summary

General election

Filed for other office

Primary Runoff

Primary Election


See also

Ballotpedia News

References

  1. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, "Recount looks likely in Republican superintendent race," July 23, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 The Rome News-Tribune, "UPDATE: Woods edges Buck for Georgia Superintendent Republican runoff, results within margin for recount," July 23, 2014
  3. Georgia Secretary of State Election Results, "General Primary Runoff and General Nonpartisan Election Runoff July 22, 2014," accessed July 23, 2014
  4. Georgia Code, "20-2-34," accessed September 15, 2011
  5. Georgia Election Results, Secretary of State, "Primary Statewide Election Results," accessed July 21, 2014
  6. Cook Political Report, "2014 Governors Race Ratings for July 18, 2014," July 18, 2014
  7. Georgia Secretary of State, "Qualifying Candidate Information," accessed May 19, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "State school chief candidates in the final stretch. No idea who will prevail," July 14, 2014
  9. GPB News, "Voters To Choose Democratic Superintendent Candidate Tuesday," July 17, 2014
  10. Valarie Wilson for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  11. The Marietta Daily Journal, "Morgan to run for Ga. Superintendent," November 13, 2013
  12. Richard Woods for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed November 18, 2013
  13. Mike Buck for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Georgia Secretary of State, "Qualifying Candidate Information: State Schools Superintendent," accessed April 1, 2014
  15. Denise Freeman for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website,' "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  16. Tarnisha Dent for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  17. Rita Robinzine for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  18. The Marietta Daily Journal, "Morgan to run for Ga. Superintendent," November 13, 2013
  19. Valarie Wilson for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  20. Mary Kay Bacallao for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  21. Ashley Bell for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  22. Mike Buck for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  23. Nancy Jester for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed November 18, 2013
  24. Fitz Johnson for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  25. Sheryl Dawes for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  26. Kira Willis 2014 Official campaign, "Homepage," accessed November 18, 2013
  27. Richard Woods for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed November 18, 2013