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15 candidates in close fight to be schools superintendent
by Kate Brumback
Associated Press Writer
May 20, 2014 10:03 PM | 1493 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Six Democrats and nine Republicans vying to become state schools superintendent — the most crowded statewide race in Tuesday's election — are locked in a tight race with no clear winner in either primary.

The seat is being vacated after a single term by Superintendent John Barge, who was one of two unsuccessful Republican primary challengers to Gov. Nathan Deal.

Primaries in both parties seem almost certain to head to a runoff as state rules require a candidate to receive 50 percent plus one vote to advance to the general election.

Republican Public Service Commissioner Lauren "Bubba" McDonald had two primary challengers. Incumbents in other statewide constitutional offices, all Republicans, are running unopposed in their primaries, while the other races with contested Democratic primaries are insurance commissioner and secretary of state.

The Republican candidates for superintendent are:

— Mary Kay Baccallao, of Fayetteville, an education professor at Mercer University;

— Ashley Bell, of Gainesville, an attorney and former Hall County commissioner;

— Mike Buck, of Rome, an educator and acting chief of staff for Barge;

— Sharyl Dawes, of Johns Creek, an educator;

— Allen Fort, of Valdosta, superintendent of the Quitman County School System;

— Nancy Jester, of Dunwoody, a former DeKalb County school board member;

— Fitz Johnson, Atlanta, a business owner;

— Kira Willis, of Roswell, an educator;

— Richard Woods, of Tifton, an educator.

The Democrats are:

— Tarnisha Dent, of Atlanta, an educator;

— Denise Freeman, of Tignall, a consultant;

— Jurita Forehand Mays, of DeKalb County, an educator;

— Alisha Morgan, a state representative from Austell;

— Rita Robinzine, an educator from Lithonia;

— Valarie Wilson, a nonprofit director from Decatur.

In the Democratic primary for secretary of state, Doreen Carter, a consultant from Lithonia was leading Gerald Beckum, mayor of Oglethorpe, with nearly 70 percent of the vote in unofficial returns with 40 percent of precincts reporting. The winner will try to unseat Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

In the Democratic primary for insurance commissioner, Liz Johnson, a retired insurance agent from Statesboro, had about 70 percent of the vote in unofficial returns with 39 percent of precincts reporting, giving her a lead over Fayetteville insurance associate Keith Heard. The winner will challenge Republican incumbent Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.

In the race for the Public Service Commission District 4 seat, incumbent McDonald had about 63 percent of the vote in unofficial returns with 35 percent of precincts returning. He's trying to fend off a challenge from Doug Kidd, a lawyer from Lavonia, and Craig Lutz, a Hall County commissioner from Flowery Branch. The winner will face off in November against Democrat Daniel Blackman, an environmental planning and policy consultant from Cumming who was unopposed in the primary, and Libertarian Aaron Gilmer, a payroll company executive from Dawsonville.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, a Republican, will defend his seat later this year against a challenge from Atlanta real estate broker and former state senator Connie Stokes, a Democrat.

Attorney General Sam Olens, a Republican, is running unopposed and will be challenged in the general election by Democrat Greg Hecht, an attorney and former state lawmaker from Jonesboro.

Robbin Shipp, an attorney former state representative from Atlanta, is the only Democrat seeking to unseat Republican Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler.

In the race to be agriculture commissioner, Christopher Irvin, a small business owner from Toccoa and the lone Democratic candidate, will try in November to unseat the man who replaced his grandfather, Tommy Irvin, who stepped down as agriculture commissioner after more than 40 years in office.

The Public Service Commission District 1 seat is in play this year, but Republican incumbent Doug Everett faces no challengers.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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