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Posted: May 20, 2014 11:35 p.m.

15 candidates fight to be schools superintendent

ATLANTA (AP) — Six Democrats and nine Republicans vying to become state schools superintendent are locked in tight primary contests, with both races likely headed for a runoff.

In the Democratic primary, Valarie Wilson and Alisha Morgan were leading in unofficial returns with 74 percent of precincts reporting. On the Republican side, Michael Buck and Richard Woods were in the lead. Primaries in both parties seem almost certain to head to a runoff as state rules require a candidate to receive 50 percent plus one vote to advance to the general election.

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

Incumbents in most other statewide constitutional offices, all Republicans, are running unopposed in their primaries, while the other races with contested Democratic primaries are insurance commissioner and secretary of state. Republican Public Service Commissioner Lauren "Bubba" McDonald was facing 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, incumbent McDonald had about 62 percent of the vote in unofficial returns with 74 percent of precincts returning. He's trying to fend off a challenge from Doug Kidd, a lawyer from Lavonia, and Craig Lutz, a Hall County commissioner from Flowery Branch. The winner 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.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, a Republican, will defend his seat later this year against a challenge from Atlanta real estate broker and former state senator Connie Stokes, a Democrat.

Attorney General Sam Olens, a Republican, is running unopposed and will be challenged in the general election by Democrat Greg Hecht, an attorney and former state lawmaker from Jonesboro.

Robbin Shipp, an attorney former state representative from Atlanta, is the only Democrat seeking to unseat Republican Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler.

In the race to be agriculture commissioner, Christopher Irvin, a small business owner from Toccoa and the lone Democratic candidate, will try in November to unseat the man who replaced his grandfather, Tommy Irvin, who stepped down as agriculture commissioner after more than 40 years in office.

The Public Service Commission District 1 seat is in play this year, but Republican incumbent Doug Everett faces no challengers.

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