Georgia down ballot state executive elections, 2014

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Georgia Down Ballot State Executive Elections

Primary Date
May 20, 2014

Runoff Date
July 22, 2014

General Election Date:
November 4, 2014

Georgia State Executive Elections
Top Ballot
Governor Lieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney General
Down Ballot
Superintendent, Insurance Commissioner, Agriculture Commissioner, Labor Commissioner, Public Service Commissioner

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Six down ballot state executive positions are up for election in the state of Georgia in 2014: state schools superintendent, insurance commissioner, commissioner of agriculture, commissioner of labor and two seats on the public service commission.

The general election will be held on November 4, 2014, following a primary on May 20 and a runoff where necessary on July 22. Georgia election law requires a candidate to earn at least 50 percent of the primary election vote in order to automatically move on with the party's nomination.[1] If no candidate reaches that threshold, the two candidates with the highest number of votes compete in a runoff, which, effective 2014, takes place "on the Tuesday of the ninth week" following the primary. The timetable was revised under House Bill 310 and signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal in January 2014; Prior to 2014, runoffs were regularly held three weeks after the preceding primary.[2]

Going into the 2014 electoral cycle, all six down ballot positions are occupied by Republicans. Five of the incumbents are running for re-election. The exception, current Georgia State Superintendent of Schools John Barge (R), opted to run for governor against GOP incumbent Nathan Deal.[3] He lost to Deal in the primary.

District 4 Public Service Commissioner Bubba McDonald (R) was the only incumbent from the down ballot races to face a primary challenge. Undaunted, McDonald easily overtook two challengers to secure the Republican nomination on May 20. He is running against uncontested Democratic nominee Daniel Blackman in the general election.

Current Georgia Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens faces Democrat Liz Johnson and Libertarian Ted Metz in November. Johnson defeated opponent Keith Heard in the Democratic primary by a commanding margin of 40 percent.

Stealing some of the spotlight away from the top of the ticket, both superintendent primaries failed to produce a definitive victor in the primary and went to runoffs. The top two finishers in each field faced off on July 22: Alisha Thomas Morgan and Valarie Wilson for the Democrats; Mike Buck and Richard Woods for the Republicans.[4] Wilson was declared the Democratic nominee late on election night, however the Republican race was too close to call. With 100 percent precincts reporting as of July 24, Woods led Buck by about 725 votes of almost 397,800 cast, not accounting for provisional ballots. The results of the runoff fell inside the 1 percent margin needed to warrant a recount. The recount concluded on Thursday, July 31, confirming Woods as the official winner.[5][6][7][8]

Georgia is one of 14 states that uses an open primary system, in which registered voters do not have to be members of a party to vote in that party's primary.[9][10][11]

State Superintendent of Schools

Candidates

General election

Filed for other office

Primary Runoff

Primary Election

Results

Primary runoff

Republican runoff
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.
Democratic runoff
Georgia State Superintendents of Schools, Democratic Primary Runoff, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngValarie Wilson 54.4% 73,711
Alisha Thomas Morgan 45.6% 61,846
Total Votes 135,557
Election Results Via:Georgia Secretary of State. Vote totals above are unofficial and reflect 100% precincts reporting.

Primary election

Republican primary
Georgia Superintendent of Schools, Republican Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngRichard Woods 16.8% 78,542
Green check mark transparent.pngMike Buck 19.5% 91,435
Mary Kay Bacallao 15.3% 71,810
Ashley Bell 15% 70,065
Nancy Jester 10.9% 51,211
Fitz Johnson 7.7% 35,862
Allen Bowles Fort 6.3% 29,504
Sharyl Dawes 5.4% 25,468
Kira Willis 3.1% 14,584
Total Votes 468,481
Election Results Via:Georgia Secretary of State Election Results.
Democratic primary
Georgia Superintendent of Schools, Democratic Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngValarie Wilson 32.6% 96,849
Green check mark transparent.pngAlisha Thomas Morgan 26.4% 78,460
Denise Freeman 18.3% 54,428
Tarnisha Dent 13.5% 40,007
Jurita Forehand Mays 5.7% 16,818
Rita Robinzine 3.6% 10,609
Total Votes 297,171
Election Results Via:Georgia Secretary of State Election Results.

Duties

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.[30]

Race background

In the May 20 primary election, neither of the crowded Democratic and Republican fields for Georgia State Superintendent of Schools managed to produce a candidate with at least 50 percent of the vote in their respective primaries.[31] As a result, the top two vote-getters from each race competed in a runoff on July 22 to decide who would advance to the general election: state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan and former Decatur School Board Chairwoman Valarie Wilson for the Democrats; chief academic officer for the state Department of Education Mike Buck and veteran Irwin County educator Richard Woods for the Republicans.[32][33][34][35]

Wilson was declared the Democratic nominee for Georgia State Superintendent of Schools over state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan late on May 20, while the GOP runoff between Buck and Woods was too close to call.[36][37][38] [39] With 100 percent precincts fully reported the day after, excluding provisional ballots, Woods led by less than 730 votes out of about 397,800 cast—well below the one percent margin Georgia election law deems necessary to conduct a recount.[40][38] The outcome remained a mystery until Thursday, July 31, when the ensuing recount concluded that Woods had won the race by a mere 713 votes.[41]

As the sole open state executive seat in 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 to current Gov. Nathan Deal in the GOP primary brought an early end to Barge's gubernatorial campaign, he was unable to join in the superintendent ballot after the fact. Barge's choice was unique among the 10-man, all-Republican roster of Georgia state executive incumbents, all of whom are considered likely to be re-elected, and has exposed the superintendent's office as a target for Democrats looking to gain a foothold in the executive branch of the state government.[42][43]

The race attracted additional media attention for its relevance to the nationwide discussion about Common Core. The Georgia State Superintendent of Schools plays a critical role in the implementation of the controversial new education standards. Unsurprisingly, the top candidates all faced heavy scrutiny over their stances on the issue during their primary campaigns and the matter will no doubt be a centerpiece of ensuing debates between the nominees.

Of the Republicans, Buck supported 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.[44]

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 was the better qualified. 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 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.[45] Morgan more recently endeared herself to influential Democratic establishment leaders by championing a fight against an anti-Common Core bill in the state Senate.[44]

Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner

Candidates

General election

Lost in the primary

Results

Primary election

Republican primary
  • Uncontested
Democratic primary
Georgia Insurance Commissioner, Democratic Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngKeith Heard 69.9% 203,318
Liz Johnson 30.1% 87,437
Total Votes 290,755
Election Results Via:Georgia Secretary of State Election Results.

Duties

The commissioner is administrative head of the Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner, which both regulates the state's insurance industry and oversees state fire safety initiatives.

Commissioner of Agriculture

Candidates

General election

Results

Primary election

Republican primary
  • Uncontested
Democratic primary
  • Uncontested

Duties

The commissioner manages the Georgia Department of Agriculture, which regulates and promotes the produce of Georgia's agricultural industry.

According to the department's website, "the Georgia Department of Agriculture regulates, monitors, or assists with the following areas: grocery stores, convenience stores, food warehouses, bottling plants, food processing plants, pet dealers and breeders, animal health, gasoline quality and pump calibration, antifreeze, weights and measures, marketing of Georgia agricultural products domestically and internationally, pesticides, structural pest control, meat processing plants, seed quality, Vidalia onions, state farmers markets, plant diseases, nurseries and garden centers, fertilizer and lime, potting soil; feed, boll weevil eradication, apiaries, Humane Care for Equines Act, bottled water, and other responsibilities."[51]

Commissioner of Labor

Candidates

General election

Results

Primary election

Republican primary
  • Uncontested
Democratic primary
  • Uncontested

Duties

The commissioner is the administrative head of the Georgia Department of Labor, which implements the state's labor regulations, operates its unemployment insurance and workforce development programs, and produces research and statistics regarding the state's labor market.

Public Service Commission (Two seats)

See also: Georgia Public Service Commission

Candidates

General election (District 1)

General election (District 4)

Lost in the primary (District 4)

Results

Primary election

Republican primary
Georgia Public Service Commissioner, Republican Primary, 2014
Candidate Vote % Votes
Green check mark transparent.pngBubba McDonald Incumbent 62.3% 318,205
Doug Kidd 20.8% 106,474
Craig Lutz 16.9% 86,189
Total Votes 510,868
Election Results Via:Georgia Secretary of State Election Results.
Democratic primary
  • Uncontested

Duties

Public service commissioners are responsible for making regulations covering Georgia's electric, gas, telecommunications and intrastate transportation firms. State law also gives the commission the power to hear complaints against public utilities, require utilities to maintain certain services or facilities and "examine the affairs" of utilities and "keep informed of their general condition."[58]

Key deadlines

Deadline Event
March 7, 2014 Filing deadline for candidates
May 20, 2014 Primary election
June 27, 2014 Filing deadline for independent candidates
July 22, 2014 Primary runoff election
September 2, 2014 Deadline to file as a write-in candidate for the general election
November 4, 2014 General election
January 12, 2015 Inauguration day for state executive officials in general election

Ballotpedia reports

To learn more about developments in these races, check out the following news articles from Ballotpedia:

Recent news

Commissioner of Agriculture

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Commissioner of Labor

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Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner

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Public Service Commission

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Superintendent of Schools

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See also

External links

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References

  1. National Conference of State Legislatures, "Primary Runoffs," accessed July 21, 2014
  2. Georgia General Assembly, "Legislation: 2013-2014 Regular Session - HB 310 Elections; ethics in government; revise definitions; provisions," accessed July 21, 2014
  3. Georgia Secretary of State, "Qualifying Candidate Information," accessed May 19, 2014
  4. Georgia Election Results, Secretary of State, "Primary Statewide Election Results," accessed July 21, 2014
  5. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Buck loses recount in Georgia GOP schools race," July 31, 2014
  6. Georgia Secretary of State Election Results, "General Primary Runoff and General Nonpartisan Election Runoff July 22, 2014," accessed July 23, 2014
  7. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, "Recount looks likely in Republican superintendent race," July 23, 2014
  8. The Rome News-Tribune, "UPDATE: Woods edges Buck for Georgia Superintendent Republican runoff, results within margin for recount," July 23, 2014
  9. National Conference of State Legislatures Website, "State Primary Election Types," accessed January 6, 2014
  10. Fair Vote, "Congressional and Presidential Primaries: Open, Closed, Semi-Closed, and 'Top Two,'" accessed January 6, 2014
  11. Ballotpedia research conducted December 26, 2013 through January 3, 2014 researching and analyzing various state websites and codes.
  12. Valarie Wilson for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  13. The Marietta Daily Journal, "Morgan to run for Ga. Superintendent," November 13, 2013
  14. Richard Woods for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed November 18, 2013
  15. Mike Buck for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Georgia Secretary of State, "Qualifying Candidate Information: State Schools Superintendent," accessed April 1, 2014
  17. Denise Freeman for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website,' "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  18. Tarnisha Dent for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  19. Rita Robinzine for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  20. The Marietta Daily Journal, "Morgan to run for Ga. Superintendent," November 13, 2013
  21. Valarie Wilson for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  22. Mary Kay Bacallao for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  23. Ashley Bell for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  24. Mike Buck for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  25. Nancy Jester for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed November 18, 2013
  26. Fitz Johnson for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  27. Sheryl Dawes for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  28. Kira Willis 2014 Official campaign, "Homepage," accessed November 18, 2013
  29. Richard Woods for Superintendent 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed November 18, 2013
  30. Georgia Code, "20-2-34," accessed September 15, 2011
  31. Georgia Election Results, Secretary of State, "Primary Statewide Election Results," accessed July 21, 2014
  32. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named morgan
  33. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named wilson
  34. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named buck
  35. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named woods
  36. abc walbnews10, "Richard Woods awaits final results, running for School Superintendent," July 23, 2014
  37. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, "Recount looks likely in Republican superintendent race," July 23, 2014
  38. 38.0 38.1 The Rome News-Tribune, "UPDATE: Woods edges Buck for Georgia Superintendent Republican runoff, results within margin for recount," July 23, 2014
  39. Georgia Election Results, Secretary of State, "Primary Statewide Election Results," accessed July 21, 2014
  40. Georgia Secretary of State Election Results, "General Primary Runoff and General Nonpartisan Election Runoff July 22, 2014," accessed July 23, 2014
  41. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Buck loses recount in Georgia GOP schools race," July 31, 2014
  42. Cook Political Report, "2014 Governors Race Ratings for July 18, 2014," July 18, 2014
  43. Georgia Secretary of State, "Qualifying Candidate Information," accessed May 19, 2014
  44. 44.0 44.1 Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "State school chief candidates in the final stretch. No idea who will prevail," July 14, 2014
  45. GPB News, "Voters To Choose Democratic Superintendent Candidate Tuesday," July 17, 2014
  46. Ralph Hudgeons for Insurance Commissioner 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed March 31, 2014
  47. Liz Johnson for GA Insurance Commissioner, "Timeline," accessed December 18, 2013
  48. Ted Metz for Insurance Commissioner 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed August 15, 2014
  49. Keith Heard for Insurance Commissioner 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed March 31, 2014
  50. Chris Irvin for Agriculture Commissioner, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  51. Georgia Department of Agriculture, "About Us," accessed September 16, 2011
  52. Robbin Shipp for Labor Commissioner 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed March 31, 2014
  53. Georgia Secretary of State, "Qualifying Candidate Information, 2014 General Election - Public Services Commissioner, District 1 (Southern)," accessed August 15, 2014
  54. Daniel Blackman for PSC 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  55. Georgia Secretary of State, "Qualifying Candidate Information, 2014 General Election - Public Services Commissioner, District 4 (Northern)," accessed August 15, 2014
  56. Craig Lutz for PSC 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  57. Doug Kidd for PSC 2014 Official campaign website, "Homepage," accessed April 1, 2014
  58. Georgia Code, "46-2-20," accessed September 19, 2011