For two people in the governor’s race, Wednesday morning became just another sleepless day of campaigning.
Karen Handel and Nathan Deal very quickly laid out the themes of their three-week encore in the GOP primary.
My early morning AJC colleagues noted this from the Deal appearance on Channel 2 Action News, who is quickly attempting to claim the mantle of “true conservative:”
For his part, Deal touted his Georgia Right to Life endorsement and predicted he’ll have the backing of former Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine and former state Sen. Eric Johnson, his unsuccessful primary opponents.
Karen Handel answered him on Fox5:
“Nathan Deal’s been in politics his entire life. We need next-generation, fresh thinking for this state.”
So age will be at least a subliminal message. And the “true conservative” part? Said Handel:
That kind of makes me laugh. That, coming from a former Clinton Democrat who became a Republican when it became politically expedient for him?”
If you’re a Republican, you’re not looking forward to three more weeks of tough infighting.
But on the bright side, the 678,880 ballots cast in the GOP primary for governor was a turnout, number-crunchers assure us.
The 392,472 who voted in the Democratic primary numbered about 90,000 less than the 482,117 who showed up for the Mark Taylor/Cathy Cox dance four years ago.
In other words, Republicans had a 2-to-1 edge in total ballots cast, which is why you won’t hear Democrat Roy Barnes talk much about party identification.
By one count – and we haven’t verified it yet – Handel finished first or second in 133 counties; Deal finished first or second in 57.
At ajc.com, we’ve got a good map showing the county-by-county spread. Without question, Handel had the larger footprint on Tuesday.
On the Democratic side, Barnes won 157 counties. House Minority Leader DuBose Porter of Dublin won his home county of Laurens, and neighboring Johnson County.
Other runoffs will play into the Aug. 10 finale in the GOP race for governor.
Fortunately for Deal, Tom Graves missed escaping a runoff in the 9th District congressional contest for a few hundred votes.
Fortunately for Handel, Sam Olens of Cobb County has landed in a runoff against Preston Smith of Rome in the GOP race for attorney general. Handel had a better than 2-to-1 edge over deal in Cobb last night.
Handel’s race to the top of Tuesday’s Republican vote was fueled by an endorsement by Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican nominee for vice president.
Palin’s entry into the Georgia race for governor has produced some rumblings, as mentioned this morning.
But in New Hampshire, where Palin on Monday made a pick in that state’s U.S. Senate race, the push-back was much stronger. The endorsement produced a front-page condemnation written by the publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader:
But former Gov. Palin isn’t making these endorsements because, as she claims, she has spent time in New Hampshire and thus knows that the people here are a lot like Alaskans.
She spent a few hours here on one day during the 2008 Presidential election. That’s still more time than she spent getting to know [Kelly] Ayotte, but it takes quite a bit longer to know New Hampshire.
A word of advice for supporters of Messrs. Bender, Binnie, Lamontagne and Hodes (sounds like a law firm, doesn’t it?): Don’t fret over what a “Mama Grizzly” from Alaska does. Right now, Granite Staters have more to worry about in keeping bears away from bird feeders.