Republican Nathan Deal claimed victory Tuesday night in Buckhead. He said he had spoken with Democrat Roy Barnes on the phone before making his speech at about 11:45 p.m.
“Georgia has placed its faith in the Republican party and we are not going to let them down,” said Deal to cheers.
Late Tuesday, Deal led Barnes with about 53 percent of the vote. Barnes had 43 percent, Libertarian John Monds about 4 percent.
As the returns rolled in Tuesday night, Republicans were confident they would win all statewide offices.
“This is not an election,” said GOP chairwoman Sue Everhart. “This is a restraining order against Barack Obama.”
In other statewide races, all GOP candidates had at least 54 percent of the vote. U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson was declared an early winner with more than 60 percent of the vote against Democratic challenger Michael Thurmond.
“It looks like our numbers are continuing to rise, and we can win without a runoff,” Deal said as he entered the Grand Hyatt ballroom early Tuesday evening in Atlanta. “”If we can split the numbers of independents, I think we’re going to come out on top.”
“I think we have an excellent chance of sweeping the entire slate,” Deal told reporters. “I’m convinced they’d all do a great job for the offices they’re running for.”
A sweep of Constitutional offices would transform how business gets done in Georgia, he said. “Having a team that I can depend on, a team that can work cooperatively, that’s something we haven’t had in this state,” Deal said. “Having a team that is all on the same page is good for the state. We all know we have challenges in this state, and we have to work together to solve them.”
Jobs and the economy would be the main focus, and something that each office could help others with, Deal said.
“There are all these pieces to the puzzle, and when they fit, that’s good for our state,” Deal said.
He acknowledged that he was tired from campaigning.
“I’m glad this part of it is over,” Deal said. “Now, it’s like when your wife is in labor. There’s nothing else I can do. It’s in the voters’ hands.”
Barnes, who conceded shortly after Deal made his speech, knew he faced an uphill battle in what promised to be a Republican year.
“It is hard for a Democrat to get elected anywhere,” he said early Tuesday night, and then referenced Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware U.S. Senate race. “The witch apparently got beat. Apparently you have to be a witch to be off the far end if you’re a Republican.”
– Marcus Garner, April Hunt, Steve Visser