Wilson’s funds dwarf Woods’ in superintendent race

With less than a month before Election Day, in the campaign for Georgia school superintendent, Democrat Valarie Wilson has a substantial financial edge over Republican Richard Woods.

Wilson had $67,769 while Woods had $9,093, according to campaign disclosure reports filed with the state. The reports listed all contributions and spending as of Sept. 30.

One interesting contributor to the Democrat’s campaign was J. Alvin Wilbanks, the longtime superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools and one of the state’s most influential education leaders. Wilbanks made a $500 contribution to Wilson, according to her disclosure report. Gwinnett is Georgia’s largest school district and traditionally votes for Republican candidates.

Wilson campaign spokeswoman Lillian Govus said Woods’ positions are driving some Republicans, and their money, to her campaign.

Woods said he is more focused on spending money “efficiently” and cited his campaign spending as an example of how he would act as superintendent.

“It’s how you spend the money,” he said.

At this point in 2010, Democrat Joe Martin had a similar financial lead over Republican John Barge. Barge, though, won the race. Barge unsuccessfully campaigned to become governor this year.

Most of Wilson’s contributors were labor organizations and Democratic lawmakers. Woods’ support came largely from county Republican parties, GOP state legislators and a few opponents of the Common Core education standards, which are used in Georgia and 44 other states. Woods is a vocal opponent of Common Core, describing it as “Washington micromanaging.”

Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint said there may be more contributions to Woods from Common Core opponents and people donating to Wilson who support the policy.

While Wilson has raised more money, she has also spent nearly ten times as much money as Woods, the reports show. She’s paid two companies, Diversified Resolution, Inc. and Pirouette, $27,000 since July for canvassing and field operations. Swint said he expects Wilson to use much of her money on voter mobilization efforts, in conjunction with the state Democratic Party.

Woods said he has traveled 40,000 miles during the campaign and plans to do more before the election.

Swint said both candidates will spend most of their money in the final weeks on get-out-the-vote efforts such as mail to specific voters, telephone calls, grassroots mobilization and newspaper ads. Both campaigns said they’d use some, if not all, of those methods.

Election Day is Nov. 4.

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