School superintendent races headed for runoffs

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ATLANTA - The crowded Republican and Democratic primaries for state schools superintendent are headed for runoffs.

Valarie Wilson, a nonprofit director from Decatur, finished first in the six-person Democratic race Tuesday, and Alicia Morgan, a state representative from Austell, finished second, according to unofficial returns. Michael Buck, an educator and acting chief of staff for current Superintendent John Barge, took first, and Richard Woods, an educator from Tifton, took second in nine-person Republican contest, unofficial returns showed.

State rules require a candidate to receive 50 percent plus one vote to avoid a runoff and advance to the general election.

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

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

In the Democratic primary for secretary of state, Doreen Carter, a consultant from Lithonia, beat Gerald Beckum, mayor of Oglethorpe and owner of a landscaping business, according to unofficial returns. Carter 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, beat Fayetteville insurance associate Keith Heard, according to unofficial returns. Johnson will challenge Republican incumbent Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.

In the race for the Public Service Commission District 4 seat, McDonald fended off challenges from Doug Kidd, a lawyer from Lavonia, and Craig Lutz, a Hall County commissioner from Flowery Branch, according to unofficial returns. He 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.

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