Republican Mike Buck and Democrat Valarie Wilson were in a strong position Tuesday night to earn a spot in the July runoff for Georgia school superintendent.
With more than three-fourths of the state’s counties reporting, Buck, a political neophyte and the chief academic officer at the state Department of Education, was the top vote-getter in the Republican primary, outpacing Richard L. Woods, a longtime educator in Irwin County. Former Fayette County School Board member Mary Kay Bacallao and former Hall County Commissioner Ashley Bell were not far behind Woods.
T. Fitz Johnson, a businessman who raised more money than any other candidate in the race, was far back and appeared unlikely to make the runoff, to be held July 22.
Among Democrats, Wilson, a former City Schools of Decatur school board member, was out front, with state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, D-Austell, trailing her. Morgan had a sizable edge over Marion Spencer ‘Denise’ Freeman, a consultant from Wilkes County, and Tarnisha Dent, an instruction coach in Atlanta.
None of the candidates on either side appeared close to clearing the threshold of 50 percent plus one vote required to win the primary outright and avoid a runoff. If no candidate gets a majority of the votes in his or her party’s primary, the top two vote-getters face off in the runoff. The general election will take place in November.
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By Wayne Washington
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution