Georgia has a new interim schools chief. Governor Perdue appointed state school board member Brad Bryant to the state superintendent post today.
Bryant is a long-time advocate for education that has sat on the state board of education since 2003. He recently served as the state’s liaison in the Clayton County’s accreditation loss.
Today Perdue has made it official – Brad Bryant will takeover for Kathy Cox as the top education official in Georgia efective July 1st. Bryant holds a MBA from UGA and a Juris Doctorate from Mercer University School of Law and has held numerous positions in regard to education that make him more than qualified to hold this position.
The Problem: Bryant needs 44,000 signatures to be on the ballot in November. By appointing Bryant, Perdue essentially says to Woods and Barge – “Thanks but not thanks.” But because of the timing of Cox’s resignation, there are even more problems – Cox is listed on the ballot as the incumbent in the Republican primary. She will get a lot of votes for that, even though she is no longer running – which will detract from Barge and Woods. The Democrat primary is more crowded. Bryant has to get a large number of signatures on his petition by mid-July – this is no easy feat. These signatures can get thrown out for a number of reasons and it has generally been difficult to mount a run as an Independent for a State-Wide office. The AJC reports that the GOP and business community will be behind Bryant, which will help and given the GOP loyalty oath isn’t as strong as the Democrat oath back in the sixties a large number of Republican officials may be able to openly support Bryant. He also has the benefit of serving on the State Board of Education and being well liked by fellow board members who will help put out the word for him.
I remain unconvinced that he can get the signatures, unless the Secretary of State’s Office finds a loophole or loosens regulation on these petitions. Bryant is a good candidate for the job and well qualified, but he has a month to get these signatures. If that fails he can try a write in campaign, but I think Ellis Arnall would advise against that.