REPUBLICAN PUNDITS are thrilled with the announcement that U.S. Army veteran and successful business leader Fitz Johnson of Vinings, who holds a Master of Education degree, will seek the Republican nomination to serve as Georgia‘s next state school superintendent.
State Superintendent John Barge is stepping down from the post to challenge Gov. Nathan Deal in next year’s Republican primary.
Johnson is an active community volunteer, including leadership roles with the Cobb Chamber of Commerce. He is also a potential self funder with a broad fundraising network that may allow him to dramatically outspend the opposition.
He also has the kind of crossover appeal that led the 2012 charter school amendment to be successful. In that campaign, suburban Republican Georgians united with suburban middle-class African American families to pass a state referendum that gave parents the ability to form their own charter schools.
“That campaign showed that Republican conservative ideals can appeal to new constituencies, including racially and ethnically diverse communities,” one political strategist said. “Fitz is a younger African American businessman who, like the charter school effort, would probably allow the Republican ticket to appeal to a broader constituency than historically has been the case.”
Johnson said he is running for the office because he believes Georgia’s students, educators and parents deserve a new kind of education leader to effectively run the public education system.
“They deserve someone with education expertise and a proven track record of actively supporting our schools. More importantly, they deserve a leader with strong experience managing large operations and building partnerships that produce results.
Having served in the military and built a successful business, Johnson said he understands how to manage a bureaucracy.
“I also know how much more efficient and effective those bureaucracies can be when they embrace private sector expertise,” Johnson said. “Gov. Deal is right. Georgia’s schools are the foundation for our state’s economic development and, more importantly, the future success of every child in Georgia. As the father of three children who graduated from our public schools, I share every parent’s deep commitment to public education.
“I believe our students and our schools can achieve more if their state school superintendent empowers them to do so. I ask every Georgian for their vote with the solemn oath to be a bold voice for unity, accountability, operational effectiveness, and reforms focused on providing the best education possible for every child.”
Johnson is a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Army and Army Reserves. He earned an undergraduate degree in education from The Citadel, a Master of Education degree from Troy State University and a law degree from the University of Kentucky.
After serving in the military and briefly practicing law, Johnson joined his father and brother to launch Eagle Group International, a defense contracting company. He helped grow the small business into a dynamic enterprise that was recently acquired by Lockheed Martin.
Today, Johnson is a partner at Georgetown Capital, a private equity firm in Atlanta, as well as CEO of Broadrange Logistics.
He helped launch the Atlanta Beat, a professional women’s soccer club.
Johnson is an active community leader serving on the Board of Trustees for the WellStar Healthcare System and on the WellStar Foundation Board of Trustees. He is a former trustee of the Cobb Energy Centre Foundation.