The first round of the Georgia Republican gubernatorial primary is over, with former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel and ex-Congressman Nathan Deal now advancing to the runoff on August 10, the Associated Press has projected, with the ultimate winner to face Democratic former Gov. Roy Barnes.
With 72% of precincts reporting, Handel has 34% to Deal's 23%, followed by former state Senate President Pro Tem Eric Johnson at 20% and state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine with 17%. Handel, who resigned her post in order to focus on her gubernatorial bid, began this race at the back of the pack, but in recent weeks and months has moved to the top -- and she recently joined the ranks of the "Mama Grizzlies," female GOP candidates endorsed by Sarah Palin. Deal, who also resigned from the House earlier this year in order to pursue his gubernatorial bid full-time, has also dabbledÂ in birtherism. So this should be a fun runoff.
On the Democratic side, former Gov. Roy Barnes easily won the nomination with 66% of the vote in the current count, with his closest opponent, state Attorney General Thurbert Baker, at 22%. Barnes lost re-election in 2002 in a huge upset against Republican Sonny Perdue, partially as a result of Barnes having shrunk the size of Confederate imagery in the state flag. As part of his comeback bid this year, Barnes had a fun ad earlier this summer suggesting that America was "laughing at us" in Georgia, over proposed state legislation dealing with such topics as microchips in people's brains, and on secession from the United States.