ATLANTA – Nathan Deal claimed victory Wednesday after former Secretary of State Karen Handel conceded defeat in a hotly contested GOP gubernatorial runoff.
Deal, a former Congressman, will face former Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat, and John Monds, a Libertarian, in November.
“The best thing for our party is to rally around Congressman Deal as our nominee in the fight against Roy Barnes,” USA Today quoted Handel as saying in a statement, referring to the Democratic nominee. “Barnes would return Georgia to a past that is best kept in our rearview mirror. We must marshal all of our resources to defeat him.”
In turn, Deal lauded Handel “for her graciousness.”
“I had a productive conversation with Secretary Handel. She said that she would not seek a recount, even though the margin is less than 1 percent, and she said that she was encouraging her supporters to work for my candidacy with the same energy and enthusiasm as they showed hers,” Deal said in a statement. “These actions are in keeping with Karen Handel’s longtime devotion to her state and to the Georgia Republican Party.”
Barnes lost his re-election bid in 2002 to current Gov. Sonny Perdue.
“Nathan Deal has worked tirelessly to represent our Georgia values in Washington against the forced liberal agenda pushed by Roy Barnes’ allies such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and John Edwards,” Perdue said in a statement. “The refusal of those leaders to listen to the will of the people on critical issues such as out-of-control spending and health care mandates simply reminds Georgians about the way Barnes ruled imperially here before 2003.
“In contrast, Nathan is a common-sense conservative who has consistently represented the principles and beliefs of our state’s citizens,” Perdue added. “Unlike his opponent, Nathan Deal listens first and talks second. Now it is time for our family to come together and keep Georgia moving forward.”