Runoff too close to call, Deal leads

ATLANTA – The GOP gubernatorial runoff remains too close to call, and neither candidate claimed victory or conceded.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal was leading former Secretary of State Karen Handel by less than 2,500 votes, according to the Secretary of State’s website. Deal held 50.2 percent of the vote to Handel’s 49.8 percent; a recount is likely.

The winner will face former Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat, and John Monds, a Libertarian, in the November general election.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich endorsed Deal, while former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin endorsed Handel. The trio’s foray into Georgia politics prompted some political pundits to couch the race as a proxy campaign in advance of the 2012 presidential election.

Current Gov. Sonny Perdue, who cannot run because of term limits, did not endorse a candidate.

Meanwhile, former Cobb County Commission Chairman Sam Olens defeated Preston Smith in the GOP Attorney General runoff. Olens will face Ken Hodges, a Democrat, in the general election.

In the GOP primary runoff for Insurance Commissioner, Ralph Hudgens defeated Maria Sheffield. Hudgens will face off against Mary Squires, a Democrat. The winner will replace John Oxendine, who ran for governor instead of seeking re-election.

In the GOP primary runoff for the 9th Congressional District, Tom Graves defeated Lee Hawkins – ending months of constant campaigning. No Democrats are on the ballot in November.

During a May 11 special election to replace Deal, Graves topped a crowded field, taking 34.8 percent of the vote – below the majority he needed to avoid a runoff. Hawkins came in second during, pulling in 23.2 percent of the ballots cast.

The two squared off June 8, and Graves won with 56.4 percent of the vote. The next month, Graves garnered 49.5 percent of the vote – just shy of the so-called 50 percent plus one he needed to avoid a runoff. Hawkins won 26.7 percent of the vote.

In the GOP primary runoff for the 7th Congressional District, Rob Woodall defeated Jody Hice in a bid to replace John Linder, who decided not to run for re-election this year. Woodall will face Doug Heckman, a Democrat, in November.

In the GOP primary runoff for the 13th Congressional District, Republican Mike Crane defeated Deborah Honeycutt. Crane will face incumbent David Scott, a Democrat, in November.

In the Democratic Secretary of State runoff, Georganna Sinkfield defeated Gail Buckner and will face incumbent Brian Kemp, a Republican, in November.

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