Georgia Republican runoff for governor still a cliffhanger

August 11, 2010


The Georgia Republican runoff for governor remained undecided Tuesday night, with former Rep. Nathan Deal holding a lead of less than 1 percent over former Secretary of State Karen Handel.

With 99.9 percent of precincts reporting, Deal was ahead by a narrow margin of 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent – just under 2,500 votes.

Under state law, a candidate can request a recount when a race is decided by less than 1 percent, and Handel’s campaign gave no indication on Tuesday she would step aside.

“It’s just too close to call. We’re waiting and watching, and we’ll see what it looks like tomorrow,” Handel spokesman Dan McLagan told POLITICO.

As for the possibility of requesting a recount, McLagan said, they’re “not even to that stage yet. We’re going to see what the final numbers are and we’ll make that assessment.”

Handel won the July 20 seven-candidate primary over Deal by 11 points, but in Tuesday’s vote Deal was able to greatly improve upon his performance just three weeks ago, winning key support in the state’s rural counties and shoring up wide margins in his home base of northeast Georgia and surrounding counties. Handel performed strongly in the metro Atlanta region and her home base of Fulton County, and also picked up counties along the coast.

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson pointed to that surge as evidence they had run the stronger runoff campaign.

“What Nathan Deal accomplished tonight was monumental,” Robinson told POLITICO. “We were 11 points down in the primary and we came roaring back. That means that over the last three weeks we have not only won the head-to-head battle, we’ve won big.”

“We are extraordinarily proud of where we are tonight,” Robinson added, saying they, “feel very confident that our lead is going to hold and that [Deal] is going to be the nominee,”

Georgia Republican Party Chairwoman Sue Everhart she wasn’t surprised by the close margin and the late night.

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