Deal Defeats Palin-Backed Opponent in Georgia Republican Primary Runoff

Former U.S. Representative Nathan Deal won yesterday’s Republican runoff for the gubernatorial nomination in Georgia as former Secretary of State Karen Handel conceded the race to him today.

Handel, endorsed by 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, said she wouldn’t seek a recount, the Associated Press reported.

With all precincts counted, Deal led Handel by about 2,500 votes, or 0.4 percent of the roughly 580,000 ballots cast, According to AP. An unknown number of provisional ballots as well as those cast by Georgians living overseas and military personnel remained to be counted.

Under Georgia law, a losing candidate can seek a recount if the winning margin is less than 1 percent, AP said.

Handel, 48, was also backed by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Deal, 67, had the support of other prominent Republicans, including former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. House speaker from Georgia.

Palin, Romney, Huckabee and Gingrich are all possible 2012 presidential candidates.

Handel and Deal squared off in the runoff because neither candidate got more than 50 percent of the ballots in the Georgia’s July 20 primary. Handel won 34 percent of that vote. Deal, who resigned his House seat in March to seek the governorship, had 23 percent.

Democrat Roy Barnes, 62, a former Georgia governor, won enough votes in the primary to avoid a runoff and claim his party’s gubernatorial nomination.

Palin, the former Alaska governor, joined Handel on the campaign trail earlier this week. At a rally in Atlanta on Aug. 9, Palin urged voters to end what she called a “good ol’ boy network” by supporting Handel.

The state’s term-limits law prevents Republican Governor Sonny Perdue from running again.

To contact the reporter on this story: John McCormick in Chicago at

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