Roy Barnes will be the Democratic candidate for governor.
Karen Handel will be in the runoff for the Republican nomination for governor.
John Oxendine, the frontrunner in the GOP race until a few weeks ago, will not be in the runoff. I don’t know where he goes from here, but it won’t be to the Governor’s Mansion except to visit, and probably not even then. It sounds harsh, but that outcome may be the best possible thing to happen to him. John Oxendine in the governor’s office would be a combination only a federal prosecutor could love.
Nathan Deal is the likely second-place finisher — I don’t know if there are enough uncounted votes on the coast, where Eric Johnson is strongest, to allow him to make up the difference. And if that plays out as expected, it sets up a bitter, divisive runoff focused largely around social issues.
Deal has strong ties to both the Legislature and the GOP congressional delegation; Handel’s support traces back to Gov. Sonny Perdue. Deal was endorsed by Newt Gingrich; Handel by Sarah Palin. Personally, I don’t think either endorsement had a great impact, but that’s the way a lot of people will interpret the contest.
The next few weeks aren’t likely to be pretty. The political people in both campaigns play rough.
In fact, the person who enjoys the next three weeks the most may be Roy Barnes.