Republican incumbent David Banks and Democrat Dr. Julia Hurtado had emerged as leaders in the crowded Post 5 Cobb school board primary race as of midnight. Final results were not available by press time.

Incumbent and board Vice Chair Banks garnered two Republican challengers: IT project manager Matt Harper and Shelley O’Malley, a Delta Air Lines pilot and Navy veteran.

The winner of that primary will take on the winner of the Democratic primary between Hurtado, a physical therapist with the nonprofit Shepherd Center in Atlanta, and Tammy Andress, a unit marketing specialist for the Zaxby’s on Sandy Plains Road in the Nov. 3 general election.

If a runoff is required, that election will be Aug. 11.

As of midnight, Banks was on top on the Republican side, garnering 2,431 votes of the total 4,385 votes cast in the Republican primary. Next was O’Malley with 1,067 votes, and behind her, Harper with 887 votes.

Between the Democrats, Hurtado had received 2,099 votes, of the total 3,599 cast in the Democratic primary, to Andress’ 1,500.

Banks, the senior member of the Cobb school board, said he wasn’t sure if he’d wait up to see if election results made it in on Tuesday night. He said he’d be happy to wake up Wednesday morning and find out whether or not he won.

Banks said he’d sent thousands of emails to voters explaining his platform and his accomplishments over the last 12 years since his election. On Tuesday evening, he said he felt fairly confident.

“After 12 years, if you haven’t established a good reputation, they ought to fire you. I’ve tried to build a good relationship with all the constituents, school personnel, central office personnel, so that I could get things done,” he said.

Banks also said he felt the platforms of his Republican challengers lacked “meat.”

“I’ve had to go back to the question of ‘Why are you running?’ You haven’t said what you’re going to do,” he said.

O’Malley and a group of her family and friends awaited results with food, drink and conversation at her home in northeast Cobb. She said she was happy with her campaign’s management of a race impacted by COVID-19. She said her family and volunteers helped make phone calls and get information out online and on social media.

O’Malley said she probably could have called more voters, but said her husband helped in that regard.

“He did a great job,” she said. “That was an awkward thing for me. I’m not really as proficient at that.”

O’Malley said her Republican competitors pose a real threat, Banks with the support of his status as a longtime incumbent and Harper with the legacy of his father teaching in Cobb.

In the Democratic race, Hurtado said it was too soon to dissect what worked well or didn’t in her campaign. She added she was “mostly still reeling over the chaos that took place at many of these polling places,” referring to the issues that some voters experienced on Election Day.

She said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “should be ashamed.”

Hurtado did allow, however, that no matter what, she was proud of the campaign she ran. She said she ran to make a difference and “I believe that no matter what happens tonight (or in the next few days depending on when we get results), we’ve accomplished that.”

Andress and Harper were not available for comment by press time.

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Follow Thomas Hartwell on Twitter at twitter.com/MDJThomas.

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