26 May Georgia Primary Elections Show Bipartisan Educational Choice Momentum Continues
Champion Alisha Thomas Searcy Overpowers Democratic Field in State Superintendent Primary
Overwhelming results in Republican and Democratic primaries yesterday added to the growing momentum for educational choice in the Peach State. Polling in the spring by GeorgiaCAN showed that 79% of Republicans, 78% of independents and 64% of Democrats supported a robust definition of educational choice. That was validated at the ballot box on Tuesday in both party primaries. With each election cycle, expanding educational opportunities for students is revealing itself as the mainstream position for candidates to take.
Democrat Alisha Thomas Searcy won decisively in the race for her party nomination for State Superintendent, receiving 57% of the vote. It is uncommon for crowded statewide open seat races to avoid runoffs, but Searcy did it while embracing her long history as a champion for educational choice. Her next closest opponent managed a meager 15% despite aggressive support of a state teachers association.
On the Republican ticket, voters were asked a policy advisory question: “Education is the largest line item in the state budget. Should education dollars follow the student to the school that best fits their need, whether it is public, private, magnet, charter, virtual or homeschool?”
The results were nearly identical to GeorgiaCAN’s spring poll, with 78.7% responding affirmatively.
In the 14 highly competitive races where the GeorgiaCAN Action political operation engaged, thirteen candidates won outright or advanced. The Searcy race was the biggest for GeorgiaCAN IEC. It conducted independent radio ads on her behalf. You can listen to the ad here.
She now advances to the general election to take on Republican incumbent Richard Woods, who is sharply out of step with his political party on the issue of educational choice.
The momentum continued down the ticket. GeorgiaCAN IEC engaged in support of five Democratic incumbents who were willing to vote to give children more educational options and received a primary challenge from individuals vocally opposed to the issue. Incumbents Senator Donzella James, Representative Mike Glanton, Representative Angela Moore, Representative Sheila Jones and Representative Mesha Mainor trounced those opponents, all avoiding runoffs. GeorgiaCAN IEC conducted independent expenditures for all.
In addition to sending out direct mail, GeorgiaCAN IEC put most of its grassroots operation to bear in Representative Mainor’s race. The canvassers made 16,000 calls and knocked on over 2,000 doors on her behalf.
Lastly, Democratic challenger and educational choice supporter Rashaun Kemp advanced to the June 21 runoff against a long-time incumbent.
On the Republican side, a slate of incumbents and choice champions supported by GeorgiaCAN Action’s political operation also won: Senator Chuck Payne, Senator Carden Summers, Representative Emory Dunahoo, Representative Karen Mathiak, Representative Kasey Carpenter and Representative Will Wade.
Both political parties would be smart to learn from the 2022 primary results and begin listening more to families and children, and not the status quo. Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American public’s definition of public education is quickly shifting to a system that doesn’t always fit neatly within four walls and allows families to choose the high quality school that works best for their child.