Former State School Superintendent John Barge qualified on Monday to run for his old seat. Barge will face incumbent State School Superintendent Richard Woods (R- Tifton).
Barge was elected in 2010 and often went toe-to-toe with Governor Deal. In 2012, Barge opposed Republican lawmakers’ push for charter school legislation. Barge ran an unsuccessful primary against Governor Deal in 2014 garnering only 11.15 percent of the vote.
Barge is currently the School Superintendent of McIntosh County Schools in Darien where the local board did not renew his contract. Barge also turned in his notice of not wanting to renew his contract after the district became embattled with several issues. The district has been embattled with accreditation issues and personnel lawsuits in the last year with a former high school principal and school district school police chief.
The 2018 primary against Richard Woods will likely be contested as Barge broke ranks with his own party and endorsed the Democratic Nominee Valarie Wilson (Executive Director of the Georgia School Board Association) in the 2014 general election for State School Superintendent. Richard Woods defeated Mike Buck, Barge’s Chief of Staff, in the 2014 GOP primary by around 700 votes. Buck asked for a recount at that time. Since Barge broke ranks with his own party, he will have to mend relationships inside the grassroots of the GOP to compete against Woods.
Barge was also instrumental in implementing the controversial teacher evaluation system, new Milestones testing program with cost overruns, and most of President Obama’s Race to the Top programs which issued in the controversial Common Core State Standards. The standards were then called the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards then renamed in 2015 at the suggestion of the State Board of Education to temper down political angst.