In yesterday's Georgia primaries, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel led the race for the Republican nominee for governor. She received 33 percent of the vote while former Rep. Nathan Deal got 23 percent. Since neither emerged with more than half the votes, the two will enter a runoff scheduled for August 10.
Handel received two late-in-the-game endorsements, one from Sarah Palin, who labeled Handel a "Mama Grizzly," and the other from Arizona governor and anti-immigration icon Jan Brewer. The latter endorsement was important because, as Hotline OnCall's Dan Roem points out, Deal ran primarily on his tough stance on immigration:
Deal touted his legislative record on [immigration] during his TV ads and made blatant appeals to the GOP electorate's distaste for gay rights, particularly Handel's perceived past stances on adoption and partner benefits. He accused Handel of flipping on each subject and earlier hammered her for donating money to a Log Cabin GOP group.
While Brewer's backing gave extra credence to Handel's immigration platform, Palin's endorsement might have reassured voters of Handel's conservative bonafides, dispelling worries about her past support for gay rights, as well as abortion in the case of rape and incest.
In the Democratic primary, former Gov. Roy Barnes defeated Bill Clinton-endorsed Thurbert Baker with 66 percent of the vote. Barnes is considered a strong enough candidate to spark hopes that Democrats could retake the governor's mansion for the first time since 2002, when he lost it to Sonny Perdue.