Former Georgia secretary of state Karen Handel conceded the race for the GOP gubernatorial nomination today, telling her supporters that they should back Nathan Deal in the competitive general election.
The decision followed a bitter three-week campaign for Tuesday’s runoff election and a down-to-the-wire finish. Unofficial results show Deal, a former congressman, ahead by 2,487 votes.
Handel said she will not seek a recount, despite a state law that allows her to do so.
“The best thing for our party is to rally around Congressman Deal as our nominee in the fight against Roy Barnes,” Handel said in a statement, referring to the Democratic nominee, who held the job from job from 1999 until 2003. “Barnes would return Georgia to a past that is best kept in our rearview mirror. We must marshal all of our resources to defeat him.”
Bringing the party together will be a challenge. The race became increasingly bitter as Deal attacked Handel for not having a college degree and Handel tried to paint Deal as a “corrupt” Washington insider. Handel won the state’s July 20 primary, but did not receive enough votes to avoid the runoff.
The race leans Republican, according to USA TODAY.