These candidates have the biggest bankroll in the Georgia schools superintendent’s race

Credit: Reann Huber

Credit: Reann Huber

Five men are vying for Georgia's top education job, and two of them — both of the Republicans — already have experience as state schools superintendent.

Incumbent Richard Woods is defending the seat against John Barge, who left after one term in an unsuccessful 2014 bid to replace Gov. Nathan Deal. A central plank of Barge's gubernatorial campaign was more money for schools, something Woods also has pushed for.

Voters concerned about school funding will have a hard time using the issue to differentiate between the candidates: all three Democrats say they want lawmakers and the governor to put more money into education, too. Sid Chapman, a former high school teacher serving as president of the Georgia Association of Educators, is competing with two Army veterans -- Otha Thornton, former president of the National PTA and Sam Mosteller, former head of the Georgia chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Another big issue — school safety — is more of a differentiator: all three Democrats oppose arming teachers, which is allowed under state law. The two Republicans would leave that decision to the school districts, though Barge prefers trained personnel and says he'd recruit retired veterans and police officers to patrol schools.

Barge was leading the fund-raising race in the most recent round of reporting. As of March 31, he had raised more than $57,000 and still had $40,000 on hand. Woods had raised a quarter of that amount though he added another $6,000 in subsequent reports (Woods is the only candidate to have filed the supplemental reports). Barge has already beat Woods on one match-up, defeating him  51.9 percent to 48.1 percent  in the 2010 GOP primary for the seat that went on to win in that year’s general election.

On the Democratic side, Chapman and Thornton were equals, each raising about $45,000, though Chapman had spent more than half of his amount while Thornton had spent all but about $4,000. Mosteller had raised less than $8,000.

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