Republicans are still waiting for their gubernatorial runoff winner to be announced but that didn’t stop them from putting on a united front today for their upcoming battle with former Gov. Roy Barnes and the Democrats.
AJC photographer John Spink said the room at a Buckhead “unity breakfast” was packed with at least 200 people. The GOP faithful warned that Barnes, the Democrat who lost to Sonny Perdue eight years ago, has wasted no time in launching an ad campaign against Republicans.
The event at 103 West on West Paces Ferry Road had the feel of a convention, with both winners and losers in Tuesday’s runoff encouraging the party to stay together to defeat Barnes in November.
Nathan Deal, who maintains a razor thin lead over challenger Karen Handel, was one of the last speakers at the breakfast. Deal had already made the rounds at TV studios, where he expressed “cautious optimism” that he will be named the winner. At the breakfast, however, Deal spoke more confidently that he would prevail.
Deal called Handel, who did not attend the breakfast, a “worthy opponent.”
Although Deal was the most prominent candidate at the event, the one getting one of the longest standing ovations was state Rep. Melvin Everson, an African-American lawmaker who campaigned for labor commissioner but lost to state Rep. Mark Butler in the July 20 primary.
Everson brought the crowd to its feet after calling for party unity and then introducing his primary opponent. Butler will face Democrat Darryl Hicks in the November election.