GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Karen Handel concedes - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

GOP Gubernatorial hopeful Karen Handel concedes

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Former Secretary of State Karen Handel has conceded in the Georgia primary runoff race.

Handel released a statement Wednesday that her campaign beat the odds to come in first place in the primary and came close in the runoff.

"As of this morning, we are four-tenths of a percentage point behind Nathan Deal with absentee ballots and overseas military votes yet to be counted. We certainly have the option of requesting the automatic statewide recount," she said in a statement.

She said that the best thing for our party is to rally around Deal in the fight against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Barnes.  

Barnes issued a statement regarding the runoff election results: "The runoff was certainly hard fought and I congratulate Congressman Deal on his victory. But it doesn't matter who my opponent is, this election is about the serious issues facing all Georgians, not the out-of-state endorsements and sideline issues that the other team has used to divide voters. After years of ethics violations, teacher furloughs, tax breaks to special interests, homes foreclosed and misplaced priorities our state is falling behind. I have a plan to tackle the serious issues that face our state, and I don't need on the job training -- I have the experience to make Georgia work."

Handel spoke with Deal on Wednesday morning and let him know that she endorsed his candidacy and looked forward to the fight against Barnes.

Deal said in a statement that he's extremely grateful to Handel for her graciousness and looks forward to working with her and all the other candidates on behalf of the Republican ticket.

"I had a productive conversation with Secretary Handel. She said that she would not seek a recount, even though the margin is less than 1 percent, and she said that she was encouraging her supporters to work for my candidacy with the same energy and enthusiasm as they showed hers. These actions are in keeping with Karen Handel's longtime devotion to her state and to the Georgia Republican Party. This selfless gesture allows Republicans to rally together to beat Roy Barnes."

Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue is confident in Deal and said in a statement he is an outstanding republican candidate for governor.

"Nathan Deal has worked tirelessly to represent our Georgia values in Washington against the forced liberal agenda pushed by Roy Barnes' allies such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and John Edwards. The refusal of those leaders to listen to the will of the people on critical issues such as out-of-control spending and health care mandates simply reminds Georgians about the way Barnes ruled imperially here before 2003. In contrast, Nathan is a common-sense conservative who has consistently represented the principles and beliefs of our state's citizens. Unlike his opponent, Nathan Deal listens first and talks second. Now it is time for our family to come together and keep Georgia moving forward."

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