The battle for the Republican nomination to be Georgia’s state superintendent appears to be headed for extra innings, as Tuesday’s runoff results leave the candidates separated by less than the 1 percent gap needed to allow a full recount.
The clash between Mike Buck and Richard Woods, who leads by just over 700 votes, is a proxy battle in the internal Republican war over Common Core multi-state education standards.
Woods, a teacher and school administrator, is a strong opponent of the standards, while Buck, the chief academic officer of the Georgia Department of Education, supports them. The clash pits tea party activists, who view the standards as a federal takeover of education, against business and military leaders, who say the standards bring an increase in rigor needed to keep the United States globally competitive.
Several Republican lawmakers attempted to repeal Common Core in Georgia this spring, but faced with opposition from Gov. Nathan Deal as well as many within their own party, the effort failed.
Buck acknowledged that Woods’s campaign drew a great deal of strength from the Common Core issue.
“Obviously, his position on Common Core appeals to a certain group. That group is very likely to show up en masse. To their credit, they showed up at the polls. I fully anticipated it would be close,” Buck told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Should Woods hold onto his slim lead, it will represent a significant come-from-behind victory, as he trailed Buck by some 13,000 votes in the first nine-way primary race.
Woods is making his second bid to be superintendent, having lost four years ago.
The eventual winner will still have to face off with Democratic nominee Valarie Wilson in November.
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