Nathan Deal promises ‘to tie his own shoes,’ announces for governor

Gainesville — In front of hundreds of supporters on the Hall County courthouse plaza, U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal announced for governor this morning, emphasizing his own experience as a state senator and 17-year member of Congress.

While he didn’t use the phrase, the 66-year-old Deal — the oldest of six Republicans now in the race — appears to be running as the adult in the room.

“If you want a governor who does his own thinking, writes his own speeches, and ties his own shoes, if you want all these things in your next governor, have I got a deal for you,” the congressman said.

The announcement was designed to quickly establish Deal as a major candidate in the race: a large workday crowd, a full stage complete with potted ferns and bunting, and cute elementary school students who danced to thumping music.

Deal admitted that he gave no thought to running for governor until the withdrawal of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, with whom he shares a north Georgia political base.

The congressman, who said he had not spoken to Cagle since his surgery on Monday, acknowledged that he held a conference call with House Republican leaders to ask them for support that Deal termed “vital.”

“I hope that in the very near future we’ll hear them express some opinions as to which candidates in the race they have preference for,” Deal said after his speech.

Details of the campaign have yet to emerge. “This came about in a very short period of time. A matter of just a few days,” he said. Paperwork to allow him to begin fund-raising is to be filed today. Chris Riley, his congressional press secretary, will resign to work on the campaign — though titles haven’t been determined yet.

In his speech, Deal laid out the issues he intends to concentrate on:

— On education: “Sociologists tell us that we can determine how many prison beds we must build based on the achievement level of third-graders. I want us to use those statistics to know how many college classrooms we will need.”

— Transportation: “From my conversations with my friends in the General Assembly, I know that they are greatly disappointed that they could not pass major transportation legislation this year. As governor, I will work to bring the members of the Senate and the House, and the DOT board….together to resolve our transportation problems.”

Note that he included the board that governs the state Department of Transportation. Deal didn’t mention a sales tax for road-building, but “new ideas and innovative funding.”

— Deal pointed to his experience as a former House subcommittee chairman dealing with health issues, and called for “a workable Medicaid program,” and the expansion of the state’s trauma care network.

— He also called for resolution of a decades-long legal battle between Georgia, Alabama and Florida over water, noting that his Ninth District includes most of Lake Lanier, which supplies most of metro Atlanta’s water. “It’s time for us to stake our rightful clam to the waters which by the bounty of God fall upon and flow through our state,” he said.

Underlining his experience in a conversation with reporters, Deal did not mention by name Secretary of State Karen Handel and state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine, two statewide office-holders already in the race. But it was clear they were on his mind.

“I have legislative experience. Other than Eric Johnson, who does have legislative experience, the other two do not. I think you have to understand the working of the legislative process in order to effectively manage the executive branch,” Deal said.

(Johnson, the former Senate president pro tem, joined the GOP race for governor early this week. The two other candidates are state Rep. Austin Scott of Tifton and Ray McBerry.)

Now, as to that “adult in the room” bit. Said Deal:

“For those who might say that I am more senior in terms of age to the others in the race, I take that as a compliment. As a general rule, age brings maturity and hopefully it brings wisdom. I don’t wish to put labels on anybody else.”

Dean is a former Democrat who switched parties in 1995, three years after his first election to Congress. Asked if he thought that would hurt him, the congressman said, “It didn’t seem to hurt Sonny Perdue, and he switched parties after I did.”

Several of those mentioned as successors to Deal in Congress — all Republican — were seen working the crowd. Among them were state Sen. Chip Pearson of Dawsonville and Max Burns — the former congressman, who moved to north Georgia after he was ousted from his seat by U.S. Rep. John Barrow (D-Savannah).

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99 comments Add your comment

[...] been talked about for a few days now, but now it’s officially official. Gainesville — In front of hundreds of supporters on the Hall County courthouse plaza, U.S. Rep. [...]

Rod

May 1st, 2009
11:23 am

One of the few honest politicians around. He is thoughtful, bright, experienced and a good man. I hope he wins.

82C

May 1st, 2009
11:32 am

I don’t know much about Nathan Deal but, from his comments above I will be looking forward to hearing more from him.

DK

May 1st, 2009
11:34 am

My brother lobbied the U.S. Congress a couple of years ago for a change in telecommunications law. Of the 535 senators and congressman, only two asked the question “how will this benefit my constituents?” Nathan Deal was one of the two. He’s got my vote.

Smack

May 1st, 2009
11:51 am

This shakes up things…and I like it. He’s got my vote!

Ray

May 1st, 2009
11:51 am

Don’t we need to reserve judgement until Rush tells us what to do?

Tom

May 1st, 2009
11:51 am

As long as he doesn’t aim to use the office as a pulpit from which to proselytize to us poor sinners, he’s a great choice.

bbb

May 1st, 2009
11:55 am

Nathan Deal! Hey a person in govt I actually like. I remember he came and spoke to you high school and I have often seen him give back to the community. As much I believe we might need a less conservative governor this term, I might have to go for Nathan Deal is he is the candidate.

Paul

May 1st, 2009
11:55 am

I neither like nor trust politicians. But I like and trust Nathan Deal. Georgia is lucky to have him stand up to be Governor.

Sam of Georgia

May 1st, 2009
11:57 am

What has Rush said about him running for Governor?

kreedham

May 1st, 2009
11:57 am

1) He can’t be any worse and probably would be better than Sonny!

2) He will be out of Congress!

3) Would have prefered L Westmoreland run. He wouldn’t get elected and again, I would get a new Congressman!

Brent Hoffman

May 1st, 2009
12:13 pm

Nathan Deal possess the character and great ethics that would serve Ga well! Can you imagine having a 16 year United States Congressman (along with Nathans experience as a Ga. Senator for 12 years) as Governor. Sort of beats the heck out of an Insurance Commissioner’s or Sec. of State experience…doesn’t it?

Gary

May 1st, 2009
12:16 pm

Nathan Deal is a very good congressman and actually works for the people who elected him. He has more meetings/townhalls/etc with his constituents than any other GA Congressman. I think he will make a great Governor and he has my support in the GOP column.

Gary

May 1st, 2009
12:20 pm

Another thing about Deal is he comes from the Gainesville area. The local leaders there have their act together and properly plan for growth. Deal fits into the same mold as they do and has the experience needed to help GA with its two most glaring needs: water source and transportation. Plus he isn’t one who will become a bully pulpit and divide voters based on party. He has always managed to get along and have very good debates with his past Democrat and Republican challengers (was a Democrat until 1992).

TW

May 1st, 2009
12:25 pm

And he’s pro-choice, too!

Bob

May 1st, 2009
12:31 pm

My daughter was an intern for Congressman Deal nearly 3 years ago while she was working on the
PharmD. She says he is an honest, hard working public servant. Just what we need.

Samantha

May 1st, 2009
12:43 pm

I have known Nathan Deal since he was in the State Senate. While I do not always see eye to eye with him on social issues, he is a good honest man who has alwasy worked hard for his constituents. He would be a definite improvement over Sonny Perdue, whose legacy after 8 years will be “Go Fishing” and the transportation debacle with that woman. Nathan Deal is a grown up, who is level headed, gets along with both sides of the aisle and will hopefully provide some steady real leadership after the likes of Sonny and Casey. THANK GOD Casey Cagle got out and made the way for some real leadership to get in!

BPJ

May 1st, 2009
12:48 pm

What’s his transportation policy?

Sheesh

May 1st, 2009
12:49 pm

Nathan Deal is pro-life and rates “0″ from NARAL–which is a good thing. But since federal law prevails over state law at present, it doesn’t matter.
http://www.ontheissues.org/GA/Nathan_Deal_Abortion.htm

Are 55 million abortions too few for you, knucklehead? How many would have to occur before you felt satisfied? Sheesh.

Mike Banks

May 1st, 2009
12:52 pm

To dust off a gubernatorial slogan from years ago, we want a governor who will be a workhorse, not a show horse…and that is exactly what we’ll get with Nathan Deal as Governor, a true workhorse.
While other politicians posture and grab the nearest reporter to pontificate, Nathan Deal is studying the issues to make informed decisions on what is in the best interest of his constituents. I’m told other members of Congress regularly consult with Nathan on the intricacies of legislation because they recognize he does his homework.
I’ve work for and supported Nathan Deal since he first got into political service, and I can speak of his integrity and high moral standards.

SHS

May 1st, 2009
12:55 pm

Be still my beating heart! It’s almost too good to be true — too much to be believed … an adult in the White House AND an adult in the Georgia Governor’s Mansion!

James

May 1st, 2009
12:58 pm

I’m not a huge fan of the Republican Party in Georgia, but from what I keep hearing, Deal isn’t your typical Georgia Republican. So maybe this could work out. I’d definitely consider voiting for Deal in a matchup against Barnes.

Carol

May 1st, 2009
1:02 pm

I have known Nathan Deal as an attorney, state senator, congressman and most important a gentleman. While we were sometimes on “different sides of the isle” we could always disagree agreeably. I have never once called on him for assistance that he did not respond. Maturity in the Governors office is a welcome change. A moderate/conservative man!
Welcome Home Nathan.

Lynn43

May 1st, 2009
1:07 pm

I want to know his record on education. So far, I don’t see anyone running for this office that has any idea about how schools operate.

John

May 1st, 2009
1:16 pm

Nathan Deal is 66 years old and has flirted w/ retirement for the past 2 terms. He is by far the laziest Congressman Georgia has. I think Nathan is going to have a rude awakening when he realizes just how much work this campaign is going to bring. And besides — he’s a CONGRESSMAN — he is the problem not the solution. He is the reason we have been throwing “tax parties.”

Chris

May 1st, 2009
1:18 pm

Wow – not a single negative comment so far about this man. That’s pretty impressive given that everyone usually has someone out there that doesn’t like them. I could almost care less about the Sunday alcohol sales issue, but I am curious where this Republican stands on the issue. Does any know how he has opined about it in the past?

Chris

May 1st, 2009
1:19 pm

Looks like I spoke too soon, huh, John?

WLC

May 1st, 2009
1:28 pm

Hate to disagree John, but I worked for Cong. Deal on the Hill and in the District for a few years and there is nothing lazy about this man. Don’t misinterpret his lack of grandstanding in the press or from the House floor as laziness. Recognize it for what it amazingly is, a CONGRESSMAN that actually works hard behind the scenes and in his District for the people that elected him instead of grabbing headlines!

John

May 1st, 2009
1:36 pm

Grabbing headlines is one thing but refusing to take a stand on ANYTHING is entirely seperate. The point I was trying to make is that it’s not necessarily a good thing to be a Congressman these days. Liked within your district and hated everywhere outside. I think Nathan sees the Governor’s race as a way to finally reach retirement w/out criticism. If so…. good for you Nathan — it’s about time we get a new Congressman.

Anne

May 1st, 2009
1:41 pm

Glad to hear this but sad to see him go as my Reo.

As long as he has been my Rep. I’ve always liked him. Anytime I have ever contacted him about a issue I have always got a response from him. I will gladly vote for him!

Chris Broe

May 1st, 2009
1:41 pm

Based on 66-year-old Nathan Deal’s writing ability, I now have to re-estimate how many nursing homes we’ll have to convert to prisons after the campaign. I hate doing homework. Thanks alot Nathan Deal.

[...] AJC’s Jim Galloway reports from Hall County: Gainesville — In front of hundreds of supporters on the Hall County courthouse [...]

Bill Gregg

May 1st, 2009
1:47 pm

So, is he pro-life or pro-choice?

Anne

May 1st, 2009
1:51 pm

He is pro-life

Jefferson

May 1st, 2009
1:52 pm

Is he gonna change to the next party ? He’s already been in 2…

Darren

May 1st, 2009
1:53 pm

Deal was in bed with corporate when that nasty peanut plant down there killed those people.

Same old same old.

No thanks.

John

May 1st, 2009
1:54 pm

Well he “was” pro-choice until 1995 when he switched parties. Now he is pro-life. What a coincidence… Education is obviously not his strong suit either with the comparison he made.

TW

May 1st, 2009
2:05 pm

Thanks, John. No doubt his blood runs pro-choice, but he’ll say what he needs to in order to get the good ole boy vote. I’m not saying I don’t like him – I do, and I’m pretty sure he’ll do the right thing when he gets into office.

Bill

May 1st, 2009
2:10 pm

Adults in the White House…where…who…oh you mean all the tax cheaters…

Will

May 1st, 2009
2:11 pm

Nathan Deal is a pragmatic statesman that will never put some political party before the interests of the citizens of Georgia.

Sure, he switched parties but that was a pragmatic decision based on the foregone conclusion that the national democrat party was killing the changes of Georgia democrats to keep winning. His situation is a mirror of Specter’s situation in PA.

He has no “purity” meter that radical republicans require. He would still be a democrat if the national democrat party had a big enough tent for Georgia democrats.

He is pragmatic and sincere but he is not perfect. He will keep the republican “purity” base focused on Johnny Isakson and Phil Gingrey and split among Johnson, Handel and that strange looking insurance guy. He still has thousands of democrat friends in Georgia, especially in his district. He is the only republican running that ends any chance of a democrat retaking the office of governor in Georgia.

Bdawg

May 1st, 2009
2:12 pm

I’m not a fan of any of our GOP Reps, at least as far as I know Deal doesn’t embarass our state like Westmoreland (calling the Obamas “uppity”), Gingrey (groveling before the throne of Rush), Kingston (criticizing Obama b/c he wasn’t wearing a flag pin, while saying this on TV Kingston wasn’t wearing one either), Broun (Obama is a Nazi, and our troops shouldn’t be able to read Playboy). Price is equally bad. None of the GOP Gov. candidates stand out, really. As a Dem I’m hoping voters will give a Dem candidate like Thurbert Baker a chance. The GOPers are ruining our state, and our conservative voters don’t seem to care.

Jim Callihan

May 1st, 2009
2:23 pm

I send numerous letters and emails to a plethora of government officials. While I can “throw a half dozen under the bus” for NEVER replying (unless you count Senator Jack Murphy’s “OUT OF OFFICE AUTO-REPLY” as a “reply”) the fact remains that Nathan Deal has responded to each and every one. And not just a “boiler-plate, staffer-generated generic reponse”, but acutally addressing the items of my concern(s).

THAT is representative government.

Having personally met with Nathan numerous times, I can attest his ability to resolve issues while maintaining a “greater good” focus. He is one of the most genuine and reasonable persons I have ever had represent me in government. While I wish he had a little more “fire in his belly”, his gentlemanly nature is of better service – and no reflection of weakness.

Should he become Georgia’s next governor, a great improvement will follow – I predict he will bring honor to all constituents, much the way Sam Nunn and Zell Miller did…regardless of party.

Nathan – I wish you well, for the Greater Good of this state.

Gary

May 1st, 2009
2:26 pm

A general election matchup between Baker and Deal would be very good. Real issues will be discussed and not the socially wedge issues that cause partisans to go nuts.

Gary

May 1st, 2009
2:29 pm

I agree with Jim. We can get back to respectable leadership in this state that has been missing since Zell Miller and Sam Nunn left office. And Jim, a bad, but maybe good thing, is with Deal running for Gov, Jack Murphy might run for the U.S. Congressional seat and have the chance to get beaten and maybe Forsyth County can finally get a state senator that actually cares for the county as a whole.

Jawga Boy

May 1st, 2009
2:35 pm

John, it looks like I need to enter the chorus of people who are strongly disagreeing with your assessment of Nathan Deal, who is without a doubt one of the most intelligent, hardworking, selfless, thoughtful, and dedicated patriots I have ever met. I understand that you are angry with the reckless spending that is going on in Washington, DC, but you also have to understand that Congressman Deal is firmly in the minority of people who are on our side on these issues. He voted against all of the multi-billion-dollar bailouts (from both Bush and Obama), he voted against the Obama/Congressional Democrat budget that will triple the national debt within the decade while still increasing taxes by trillions of dollars, and he was one of the primary authors of a bill (the Deficit Reduction of 2005) that will save the American taxpayers well over $100 billion in less than 10 years. Of course, these savings have been eclipsed by the tax-and-spend Leftists in power now (Pelosi, Reid, Rangel, Waxman etc.), but to blame that on Nathan Deal is like blaming the moon for chasing away the sun.

John

May 1st, 2009
2:38 pm

If you want a Governor who does even less than Sonny I suggest you vote for Nathan.

And I hate to tell you that those “direct responses/replies” you received from Nathan are actually done by his staff. Yes I know it’s hard to grasp but it is actually someone’s full time job to make you believe Nathan is responding to you. Odds are he has no knowlege of the conversation you had.

william

May 1st, 2009
2:41 pm

I haven’t been energized by any campaign since Ronald Reagan came on the scene in 1980. Why is Nathan running? He wants to see his children and grandchildren live in a better state and nation. For those that question his understanding of education, wait and see what this son of two public school teachers who is married to a middle school teacher understands. I feel confident many will be surprised by his intellect, willingness to listen and steady hand. What a breath of fresh air in a day and age lacking statesman. Godspeed, Nathan!

John

May 1st, 2009
2:43 pm

Jawga,
While I value your opinion I just don’t see Deal finishing the job. I find it hard to believe he even has the effort needed to campaign for a year.

And I feel confident in saying that over 80% of Georgians do not have the slightest idea who their Congressman is or what he stands for. So, to most people — he’s just another Congressman and that’s not good.

Tom

May 1st, 2009
2:46 pm

clarification…..he’s “anti-abortion”.

“Pro-life” is the long-popular rhetorical buzzword that inaccurately infers that “pro-choice” folks are “anti-life”, which is just plain stupid.

James Hatcher

May 1st, 2009
2:52 pm

This man has represented his constituents proudly in both State and National Government for over 28 years. He is one of the few politicians that will leave public service (hopefully not anytime soon) as good a man as the day he entered. Georgia citizens will be lucky to have his service in Atlanta just as we have been so fortunate in North Georgia. Good luck Rep. Deal