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Friday February 12th, 2016 11:44PM

Barge makes it official: He's running for governor

By The Associated Press
ATLANTA (AP) -- Georgia state schools Superintendent John Barge made it official Friday, saying he will be challenging Gov. Nathan Deal in next year's Republican primary.

Barge, who hinted a few weeks ago that he would jump into the race, said in a telephone interview that he hasn't seen "a whole lot of vision or support for public education" from Deal and believes voters want a leader "who will govern and not play politics."

Barge and Deal both have Gainesville connections: Deal is from Gainesville and Barge once lived in Gainesville and was principal at Chestatee High School.

Barge is completing his first term as superintendent and says he plans to stay in his position while campaigning for governor. A formal announcement is expected next week.

The relationship between Deal and Barge has been noticeably chilly since the two were on opposite sides of the debate over a state charter schools amendment. The measure, opposed by Barge as unnecessary, ultimately passed.

Deal, meanwhile, has roughly $1.1 million in cash for his re-election bid.

(AccessNorthGa.com's Ken Stanford contributed to this story.)
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