Georgia Governor Candidates for the Election in 2010

Jeff Chapman (R) – State Sen., Ex-Glynn County Commissioner & Businessman
Nathan Deal (R) – Congressman, Ex-State Sen., Ex-Juvenile Court Judge, Attorney & Army Veteran
Karen Handel (R) – Ex-Secretary of State, Ex-Fulton County Commission Chair & Ex-Gubernatorial Aide
Eric Johnson (R) – State Senate President & Architect
Ray McBerry (R) – Radio Station Owner, Confederate Heritage Activist & ’06 Candidate
John Oxendine (R) – State Insurance Commissioner
Austin Scott (R) – State Rep. & Insurance Agent

Thurbert Baker (D) – Attorney General & Ex-State Rep.
Roy Barnes (D) – Ex-Governor, Ex-State Sen., Ex-State Rep. & Attorney
Carl Camon (D) – Ray City Mayor, Educator & USAF Veteran

DuBose Porter (D) – State House Minority Leader, Newspaper Editor & Attorney
David Poythress (D) – Ex-State Labor Commissioner, Ex-State Adjutant General, Retired USAF Lt. General & ’98 Candidate

John Monds (Libertarian) – Grady County Planning Commission Member & ’08 PSC Nominee

Sam Hay III (Write-In) – Environmental Activist, Retired Businessman & ’02 Candidate

Source: Georgia Governor 2010



Georgia Politics: Deal or Handel?

Georgia Election Results

Unofficial And Incomplete Results of the Tuesday, August 10, 2010 Primary Election Runoff

Breaking news: Handel calls Deal, concedes GOP nomination for governor

“I’m still waiting on the “free ponies and unicorns for all Georgians..”

Peach Pundit


Poll vault for GOP candidate

Former Secretary of State Karen Handel surged to the lead last week in the Republican race for governor, a new statewide poll revealed Saturday.

Online Athens


Debate Video (Via Peach Pundit):  Fox 5 GOP Gubernatorial Debate

Jobs are everybody’s priority in governor’s race

AJC – By James Salzer

Double-digit unemployment has all the candidates for governor this year touting plans to create jobs and attract new business to the state.

Many of them want to use the tax system to give breaks to companies that hire or to potential investors. Virtually all of them talk about working to attract more biotech and other high-tech industries. And some want to create jobs by increasing government spending.

Creating work is such an important issue because the state has lost about 337,000 jobs since the beginning of the recession, according to the state Department of Labor.

But Roger Tutterow, a Mercer University economist, said there is a limit to what the state can do to create jobs.

“The economic pain we’ve been through was a national recession,” he said. “It’s important not to overstate the amount we can stimulate the local economy.

“That being said, there are certainly opportunities to ensure that as the economy gains strength, that Georgia maintains or improves its competitive position against other states in the region.”

The Republican gubernatorial candidates, in particular, want to do that with tax cuts and tax breaks. Some of those are also backed by Democratic candidates. Democrats emphasize improving education, fixing the stagnant transportation system and solving the metro Atlanta area’s water problems as keys to attracting businesses to the state.

Below are some of the proposals the leading candidates are making:


Former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal: He wants to cut the corporate income tax and to initially exempt some startup businesses from corporate income taxes. He also favors eliminating the corporate net worth tax and allowing local governments to exempt their local businesses from inventory taxes. Like most of the other candidates, he hopes to establish Georgia as a leader in biotechnology. He says he will work to ensure venture capital is available to allow innovative biotech and medical device companies, among others, to develop and grow.

Former Secretary of State Karen Handel: She says she wants to overhaul the state’s tax system, eliminating the energy tax on manufacturers and the state income tax. That would likely mean Georgians would pay higher sales taxes and taxes on more goods and services. She also would let state retirement funds invest in startup companies. She wants to establish a tax credit for investors in certain small startup companies. That was something in a bill that passed the 2010 Legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Sonny Perdue. Handel also advocates expanding the OneGeorgia rural economic development loan program to more counties. Currently it’s in most counties other than the core metro Atlanta counties. She said she would cut unnecessary and duplicative regulatory red tape through a comprehensive review of Georgia’s regulations.

Former Senate President Pro-Tem Eric Johnson: He has proposed eliminating the sales tax on energy used in manufacturing, a major expense for some businesses like the carpet industry. Johnson wants to get power companies to burn pine tree pellets, helping the forestry industry. He hopes to expand the nuclear power industry in Georgia and supports drilling for oil off the Georgia coast. He would, at least temporarily, put much more money into transportation projects, creating road-building jobs. And he wants to let state retirement systems invest in things such as high-tech firms, providing capital for those businesses.

Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine: He wants to eliminate the state personal and corporate income taxes. That, he argues, would spur more investment and make Georgia more attractive to people and businesses coming into the state. He wants to cut or eliminate several other taxes. Oxendine would have to raise the sales tax or tax more goods and services to pay for those changes. As governor, Oxendine said he would specifically target the insurance, bio-energy, biotechnology and telemedicine industries and would work to increase capital to startup businesses…

The 2010 Georgia gubernatorial election will take place on November 2, 2010. Incumbent Republican Governor Sonny Perdue is term-limited and unable to seek re-election.

Primary elections for the Republican and Democratic Parties will take place in July, and runoff elections, if necessary, will be held two weeks later. The Libertarian Party also has ballot access. Rasmussen Reports views the race as a toss-up.

Poll source Dates John Oxendine Karen Handel Nathan Deal Eric Johnson Undecided
InsiderAdvantage July 1, 10 18% 18% 12% 8% 34%
Survey USA June 14–17, 10 34% 18% 17% 6% 17%
InsiderAdvantage April 5, 2010 26% 18% 9% 5% 31%
Rasmussen Reports December 15, 09 28% 14% 13% 2% 32%
Rasmussen Reports October 20, 09 27% 12% 9% 3% 35%
Rasmussen Reports August 18, 09 31% 13% 13% 3% 31%
Rasmussen Reports June 17, 09 33% 11% 10% 3% 33%
Strategic Vision June 17, 09 35% 13% 12% 4% 32%

Source:  Wiki

Related: Handel catches Oxendine in Georgia GOP governor’s poll

Nathan Deal (R)

Congressman, Ex-State Sen., Ex-Juvenile Court Judge, Attorney & Army Veteran

About Nathan Deal

Nathan Deal’s hard work and consistent dedication to conservative principles have earned him the loyal support of grassroots Republicans and the respect of party leaders.

In Congress, Nathan fought to cut government spending through earmark reform and cost-saving Medicaid reforms. And he’s worked to strengthen our immigration policy by authoring legislation to end automatic birthright citizenship and by successfully fighting to require proof of citizenship before receiving state or federal health care benefits.

Every weekend, Nathan has returned home from Washington to listen to the concerns of those he serves. On Sundays, you’ll find Nathan and Sandra Deal at First Baptist Church of Gainesville, where Nathan has been both a deacon and a Sunday School teacher.

Put Georgia Back to Work

With a state unemployment rate exceeding 10 percent, Georgians are hungry for high-quality jobs in Georgia. Only conservative Republican Nathan Deal has a detailed, specific plan to bring new jobs to our state in order to put Georgia back to work. Fostering a pro-growth, business-friendly economic environment is fundamental to this goal. Through comprehensive regulatory and tax relief, Nathan will lead our state toward private-sector job creation and growth, and as a result, to better days ahead.

All of the candidates for governor speak to their goals to bring jobs to Georgia, but only Nathan has put together a plan to make job creation and economic growth a reality. “Real Prosperity” focuses on essential tax relief for families and small businesses and puts the building blocks in place to fuel growth and development. “Real Prosperity” would boost Georgia’s tax competitiveness with other states from 29th in the nation to 16th. Full details of this plan are available here.

Nathan will go to work every day as governor to create jobs, cut waste and ensure a better future for Georgia’s families.

Immigration Reform

Nathan was the first Republican candidate for governor to announce that he would fight for an immigration law like Arizona’s. With the Obama administration now pledging to sue the state of Arizona, Nathan has said he would join Arizona in fighting that lawsuit.

Nathan would essentially implement a statewide 287(g) program that would give local law enforcement agencies the power to work with federal authorities in enforcing our nation’s immigration laws.

Deal, a former congressman from Georgia’s 9th Congressional District, led the fight against illegal immigration in the U.S.  House and authored the health care amendment that prevents illegal immigrants from signing up for coverage through Obamacare.  He also authored legislation that would end birthright citizenship to babies born in the United States to parents in the United States illegally, and he put into law in 2005 language that for the first time required proof of identity and citizenship to gain Medicaid benefits.  His legislative leadership earned him the highest ratings from FAIR and NumbersUSA, groups that support legislation for cracking down on illegal immigration.

Georgia ranks No. 7 in the nation in the number of illegal immigrants, costing the state approximately $1.6 billion annually. Our public services are stretched beyond their limits during these tough economic times, and our open borders result in our states and counties importing poverty. Local taxpayers foot the bill for these significant additional costs. We have a national immigration system that imposes high hurdles for the highly skilled workers we need yet looks the other way on those who enter the country against the law. We need a guest worker program that’s both accountable and enforceable, but without granting a path to amnesty.

As governor, Deal will continue the fight to use our state’s constitutional powers to enforce the rule of law. New immigrants have forever been an important part of our American culture, but our system must be orderly, sustainable and in accordance with the rule of law. That’s not happening now, so states are forced to take the needed steps on their own.


Transportation is a critical issue for our state. Georgia’s east to west connectivity is insufficient, which forces thousands of extra vehicles onto metro Atlanta roads. Alternative routes must be explored to remove more than 100,000 transfer trucks from metropolitan roadways each day and significantly relieve congestion and delays as a result. As the Port of Savannah is expanded to accept larger vessels, surface transit will be a fundamental ingredient in ensuring the full utilization of the port. Connectivity through roadways and rail, when financially justifiable, must be explored. Nathan supports the actions by the Legislature to approve a long-anticipated regional transportation plan, and I commend Gov. Sonny Perdue’s approval of the measure. I believe this is an integral first step to resolving transportation shortfalls in our state over the long run.


Deal has worked as a strong advocate for public education throughout his career in public service. Both of his parents and his wife worked their entire careers as Georgia public school teachers. It’s no surprise that Nathan treats our public educators like family.

As a husband who stayed up at night with his wife grading papers, he knows that politicians’ rhetoric on education doesn’t always, if ever, reflect what happens in real Georgia classrooms. As governor, Nathan will take power away from education bureaucrats and empower local leaders to cater their plans to their local needs and resources. He will also support more options for students in our state and give parents greater choice for public education. Nathan will continue the fight to produce well rounded students in public education that are life, work and college ready.

Karen Handel (R)

Ex-Secretary of State, Ex-Fulton County Commission Chair & Ex-Gubernatorial Aide

About Karen Handel

Karen Handel brings a unique blend of executive, political and business experience to public service in Georgia. She most recently served as Georgia’s first Republican Secretary of State and is exceptionally qualified to lead our state as Governor.

Karen’s life is a case study in overcoming obstacles both personal and professional, and this fuels her “can do” attitude and her campaign’s vigorous “Bring It On” approach.

A deteriorating family situation caused Karen to leave home at 17.  She got a job and finished high school.  She also put herself through as much college as she could afford before starting a career that would see her rise rapidly through corporate America (including CIBA Vision and accounting firm KPMG) and Republican politics.

From a job at Hallmark Cards corporate offices in Washington, D.C., Karen was recruited to work in the Bush-Quayle White House, eventually becoming Deputy Chief of Staff to Marilyn Quayle.  In that capacity, she managed office operations and spearheaded Mrs. Quayle’s breast cancer awareness and research campaign, which ultimately led to the founding of the Susan G. Komen Washington ‘Race for the Cure.’

After the White House, Karen served as an executive with KPMG and later with CIBA Vision.  As a member of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce Board, Karen was tapped to lead the Chamber (one of Georgia’s largest Chambers). Within weeks on the job, she found that an employee had embezzled all but $10 from the Chamber’s bank accounts.  Many board members saw no way to salvage the troubled organization but Karen disagreed and said, “Bring it on.”  She went to work rallying businesses and community leaders and developed a recovery plan.  Today the North Fulton Chamber is thriving and creating much needed jobs.

Following his upset victory in 2002, Governor Sonny Perdue tapped Karen to serve as Deputy Chief of Staff where she oversaw operations in the Capitol, the Governor’s Mansion and served as a senior policy advisor.

In 2003, when the Chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners unexpectedly resigned early in his second term, state Republican leaders encouraged Karen to run to fill the remainder of his term. Most gave her no chance of winning, but Karen said, “Bring it on”.  Running against two former commissioners and another candidate, Karen campaigned against high property taxes and for ethics reform. She won with nearly 60% of the vote in this heavily Democratic county.

During her tenure leading the most populous county in Georgia, she inherited a budget shortfall of nearly $100 million and was told there was no way to balance the budget without raising taxes.  Karen said, “Bring it on.”  She made the strategic cuts needed and balanced the county budget three times without raising taxes. She also made ethics reform a cornerstone of her agenda and passed the most stringent ethics laws of any local government in Georgia. Karen also received national recognition for uncovering corruption that led to the removal of Fulton County Sheriff Jackie Barrett.

When Karen ran for Secretary of State in 2006, few “insiders” gave her any chance of success, but once again Karen said, “Bring it on.”  She again defied the odds and handily beat the former Senate Majority Leader for the job.

As Secretary of State, Karen supervised nearly 400 employees.  Her duties included overseeing elections, corporations, securities, professional licensing boards, and an anti-fraud investigative unit she formed in her first months in office.

In 2007, Karen successfully defended Georgia’s Photo ID law, and in 2008, she oversaw the largest elections in Georgia’s history. She led a top-to-bottom review of the agency, resulting in a 15% reduction in the agency’s budget with improvements in efficiency and customer service. Recently, Karen’s office announced that several national financial services firms will pay $8.5 million in fines to the State of Georgia, and Georgians will recover more than $3.5 billion of investments.

Time and time again in her career, Karen has faced what many considered insurmountable odds, and each time she has said, “Bring it on,” and won.  That is the attitude she brings to the Georgia race for Governor.

Karen is a lifelong conservative and Republican.  She and her husband Steve live in Roswell with their two cavalier spaniels Maggie and Mia.

Issues? Bring ’em on! Click on an issue and Karen will tell you her solution.


Karen believes that the best way to grow our economy and create jobs is to provide comprehensive, statewide and long-term solutions in education, tax and regulatory policy, transportation, water and health care. Georgia is a natural magnet for job creation because of its location, hard working citizens and its low taxes. We are limited only by our educational and physical infrastructures which are showing the strain of rapid population growth.

While addressing these infrastructure needs, Georgia’s next governor must continue Governor Perdue’s record of attracting diverse new businesses to every corner of our state, including businesses from the manufacturing, service, technology and logistics sectors.

Karen believes we need to work hard to retain the current major businesses and corporate headquarters that have already come to Georgia and continue efforts to recruit more. Karen also believes that we need a new focus on attracting and helping small and medium-sized businesses to Georgia. Small business is the real economic backbone of Georgia and the true key to job growth.


Georgia has made progress in some important areas of education, including graduation rates, SAT scores, and making the creation and approval of Charter Schools easier for parents. However, Karen thinks there is still much more work that has to be done.

As Governor, Karen will work with parents, teachers and community leaders to develop programs and innovative approaches to attack the problem of the still unacceptable drop-out rate for our children.

While doing everything we can to keep our children in school through graduation is a priority, so is preparing them for life after high school, whether through continuing education in college or technical schools, or through entering the workforce.

Too many of our children are graduating from high school lacking the skills to be successful in college or in a job. In college, too many of our students are having to take remedial classes because they lack the skills to enter basic college classes.

Karen wants to expand and grow the number of Charter Schools in Georgia so that parents and students have choices for their education. Thanks to recent changes in the law, the process for approving Charter Schools is now easier and less cumbersome. We must take advantage of this and grow the number of these schools in Georgia.


Transportation is a key issue for all Georgians. Residents of the Atlanta area are most concerned about congestion, while rural Georgians need the economic development and safety that comes with more paved roads. We are one state, and Karen believes we need a statewide solution to our transportation challenges. The recently passed bill on the governance of transportation spending was not all that it could have been, but it does represent at least a step in the right direction.

When it comes to funding transportation projects, Karen supports a comprehensive statewide approach rather than a piecemeal regional approach. She believes this should be a collaborative effort with legislators and local governments. The goal needs to be providing a foundation for our state’s future, and we have to get started immediately.


Since it is a matter of “when” and not “if” the next drought occurs, Georgia needs a statewide water plan to prepare for the inevitable. This statewide water plan must respect the water rights of all in our state and cannot undermine the success and future of one community for the benefit of another. Karen supports the construction of a strategic network of water reservoirs in partnership with local communities. As Governor, Karen will deal aggressively with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that Georgia’s interests do not take a back seat to those of Florida and Alabama. We need to continue our aggressive conservation efforts which have reduced water consumption by 12 percent. At the same time, Karen believes that we must begin to invest in newer technology, such as water reuse and desalination.


Karen supports flexibility with Medicare and Medicaid dollars, a consumer-driven, free-market based system, and portable coverage that isn’t tied to the employer. In addition to this, she supports tax deductibility for employees, not just employers, and safety nets for the truly impoverished and those who are mentally or physically not able to care for themselves. Karen also supports 21st century initiatives to increase utilization of health information technology, including e-prescriptions and electronic health records. She is adamantly opposed to a government-run “single payer system” preferred by many Democrats and European countries. In defense of her views, Karen points to the influx of Canadian patients seeking quality care in the U.S. to avoid the long waits and care rationing that a single payer system creates.

Sanctity of Life

Karen believes in the sanctity of human life. Today, with scientific advances that are now a reality and others that are on the horizon, society faces serious new moral and ethical issues. In dealing with these issues, Karen believes the sanctity of human life must be the priority and the fundamental premise upon which policies are based.Karen is pro-life. As a matter of law she believes society may allow for exceptions in cases of rape, incest or when there is a real threat to the mother’s life.

Karen believes that science has shown that adult stem cells have greater scientific and medicinal value than embryonic stem cells. Creating life only to end it and use it for research is wrong.

John Oxendine (R)

State Insurance Commissioner

About John Oxendine

In 1994, John Oxendine upset a well-funded Democrat incumbent to become Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner.  He is Georgia’s longest-serving Republican statewide constitutional officer and has been the leading vote-getter in his last two elections.

A Conservative Leader

Heading the first major state agency under Republican control, John Oxendine pioneered the application of business principles to Georgia state government.  He has consistently returned money to the taxpayers and currently operates his department on roughly the same budget as when he was first elected almost 16 years ago.

John has brought the power of the private sector to bear in addressing Georgia’s challenges. His creative, public-private partnership in developing the most comprehensive telemedicine program in the United States has expanded the availability of first-class healthcare to every Georgia citizen without spending taxpayer dollars.

Putting Taxpayers First

As Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner, John has put fiscal responsibility into practice and produced results. Although he’s implemented tough budgets, his department has improved service levels, while at the same time reigning in costs. He reduced his staff by 31%, consolidated functions, and focused on cutting administrative overhead.  In order to better serve the taxpayers, John keeps his office open until 7 PM on weeknights and always has a live person answer the phone.

Helping Small Businesses to Create Jobs

John understands the burden that government regulations can have on small businesses. Before being elected Insurance Commissioner, he owned and ran a small law firm, Oxendine and Associates, employing half-a-dozen workers.

When John was first elected as Insurance Commissioner, Georgia’s small businesses paid some of the highest workers’ compensation insurance rates in the nation, yet workers received some of the lowest benefits. Small businesses were being forced to cut their payrolls or even close because they could not afford this mandatory coverage.

In his first months in office, John restructured the workers’ compensation assigned risk pool. Within a year, new insurance companies were offering less-expensive options for small business owners. As a result of this restructuring, rates plummeted as much as 50% and benefits to injured workers increased.
Under his restructuring of workers’ compensation, small businesses and entrepreneurs could once again afford to do business in Georgia.

Leading on Healthcare

John was the first statewide constitutional officer in the country to refuse to implement the first phase of Obamacare – a government run insurance pool that according the Obama administration’s own actuary is seriously underfunded.   John believes that not only is it unconstitutional, but it will ultimately lead to an additional $1 billion or more in annual spending by Georgia on Medicaid alone.

A Lifetime of Service

John earned a triple major in Christianity, Greek, and Political Science from Mercer University. He remained in Macon to attend the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer and earned his law degree in 1987.

After college, John demonstrated his natural leadership abilities and passion for public service when he helped Governor Joe Frank Harris get elected to office.

During the Governor Harris administration, John served on the State Personnel Board and was elevated to Chairman of the Board by the Governor.

John has served on the boards of the Southeastern Regional Board of Operation Hope, Georgia Board of Safe America Foundation, Safe Kids of Georgia, and the Northeast Georgia Boy Scouts of America.

John attended DeKalb County public schools. After graduating from high school, his family moved to Gwinnett County, where John still lives.

John and his wife, Ivy, have four children, J.W., Philip, Caroline, and Baby Jake. The Oxendines are active with their church, Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church, where John serves as an usher.

John Oxendine’s Contract with Georgia

Section I: Economic Development

One: Make State Government Smaller and More Accountable:
I will accomplish this through zero-base budgeting, consolidation, and spending discipline. Read more »

Two: Create a Modern, 21st Century Tax Code:
I will eliminate the state income tax and make Georgia a more business friendly tax environment. Read more »

Three: Implement Focused Economic Development:
I will target specific domestic industries that are a natural fit for Georgia, emphasize the importance of small business and entrepreneurs, increase access to capital for fledgling businesses, and promote Georgia products to international customers. Read more »

Four: Implement a Comprehensive Statewide Transportation Plan:
I will prioritize transportation projects that provide a long-term return on investment and directly benefit the economic activity of our state. Read more »

Five: Take a Multi-Faceted Approach to Solving Our Water Issues:
I will subscribe to a comprehensive approach that includes: breaking ground on new reservoirs and expanding our current water systems, pursuing all legal options, and better conserving our precious water resources. Read more »

Section II: Family

Six: Create an Education Model that Prioritizes Classroom Spending and Local Control:
I will prioritize classroom spending and ensure that parents, teachers, and school boards are making the most critical education decisions; not government bureaucrats. Read more »

Seven: Promote Competition and Choice in Education:
I believe that competition leads to a better product for students, parents, and teachers. Comprehensive education reform must let our education dollars follow our children. Read more »

Eight: Promote a Culture of Life:
I believe that innocent human life should be protected from conception to death and my decisions as Governor will reflect those beliefs. Read more »

Section III: Freedom

Nine: Protect and Expand Our Second Amendment Rights:
I will preserve the rights of Georgians to defend themselves and will support legislation that protects and further expands the right to carry. Read more »

Ten: Uphold and Enforce Immigration Laws:
I will take away the incentives for illegal immigrants to reside in Georgia and enforce our immigration laws. Read more »

Eleven: Defend States Rights:
I support the 10th Amendment and our state’s right to fight unconstitutional mandates from the federal government. Read more »

Twelve: Promote the Fair Tax:
I will work with Governors from other states to generate momentum for overhauling the nation’s tax code. Read more »

Section IV: Appendix

Section 1: Referenced Charts & Graphs Read more »

Section 2: Economic Snapshot of Georgia Read more »

Eric Johnson (R)

State Senate President & Architect

About Eric Johnson

An architect and respected conservative leader from Savannah, Eric Johnson has helped put Georgia on a solid foundation. As Senate Minority Leader he led Republicans to the majority for the first time in over 130 years.  As Senate President Pro Tempore, he helped pass groundbreaking legislation that cut taxes, empowered small businesses, and protected our conservative values.

A lifelong Republican, Eric got deeply involved in the Party after attending a Chatham County Young Republican meeting with his good friend Jack Kingston in the late 1970’s. He was a foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution and helped elect Mack Mattingly to the United States Senate. Eric continued his service as a precinct chairman and a county party chairman. He licked envelopes and put up yard signs for Republican candidates across the state. In 1992, Eric transitioned from volunteer to candidate and was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives.  He was then elected to the State Senate in 1994.

Inspired by the new conservative ideas of a re-emerging national Republican Party, he was elected Senate Minority Leader after just two terms. Eric spent the next four years battling with the Barnes Administration and presenting Republican alternatives to the administration’s top-down, heavy-handed style. In 2002, Eric’s dedication paid off as he helped topple the Barnes political machine and elect the first Republican Governor and Republican Majority in the State Senate since Reconstruction.

Johnson’s tenure as Senate President Pro Tem was marked by major legislative accomplishments and an expanding Republican majority. Eric helped cut taxes, protect private property, reduce frivolous lawsuits, punish dangerous sexual predators, curb illegal immigration, and require a photo ID to vote. As the Senate President Pro Tem and Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, Eric was a leader on strengthening Georgia’s ethics laws.

When he stepped down from leadership in 2009 to run for statewide office, Georgians had fully entrusted Republicans to govern the state and, unlike Republicans in Washington, D.C., Eric and his colleagues had delivered.

Eric Johnson and his wife Kathryn have two children: Righton, an attorney in Atlanta, and Marcus, a pastor in Savannah. Eric has the vision to see beyond the next election cycle and think about the Georgia his two children will inherit. And as Governor, Eric can be trusted to continue getting real results for the people of Georgia based on his common sense conservative principles.

Putting Georgia Back to Work

As Governor, Eric Johnson’s #1 priority will be putting Georgia back to work.  Eric believes that government should have a limited role in people’s lives and that competition in the marketplace is the most effective way of producing economic growth.  Consequently, he believes in lower taxes, limited government regulation, and the power of the free enterprise system. Eric knows that job creation is fundamentally a private sector process. He understands that the state’s role is to provide the business climate and public infrastructure that the free market needs to grow and prosper.  With the right leadership, Georgia will emerge from the recent economic downturn faster than the rest of the nation and stronger than ever before.

Eric’s commitment to job creation cannot be questioned. During his time in the legislature, he led numerous pro-economic growth initiatives including:

  • Cutting taxes for property owners, teachers, military, retirees, farmers, and small businesses.
  • Reducing frivolous lawsuits by directing the effort to pass civil justice (tort) and class action reform.
  • Advocating anti-“card check” legislation to protect Georgia workers against efforts to deny secret ballot in union votes.
  • Supporting research in fields such as biofuel development and nanotechnology.

Eric has announced a detailed plan to put Georgia back to work.  Highlights of Eric’s blueprint for job creation are:

  • Cutting Taxes and Reducing Spending including an immediate tax cut to protect and create quality manufacturing jobs. For more, click here.
  • Helping Small Businesses Create Jobs by eliminating silly regulations and tax credits for job creation. For more, click here.
  • Leading the Southeast in energy production through biofuels, expanded nuclear power, and safely drilling off the coast. For more, click here.
  • Encouraging Innovation and Entrepreneurism by funding critical research and improving access to capital. For more, click here.

Transforming Our Education System

Eric knows that the most important economic development tool that state government can provide is an educated workforce. He understands that quality education starts with a true respect for teachers and a commitment to providing them the resources and environment they need to be successful. Additionally, Eric is determined to personalize education by giving parents, not the government, the power to choose the school that is best suited for educating their child.

  • Eric passed the “School Safety Act” that requires notification of local school systems when a juvenile convicted of a felony is released back into school and sets up an alternative school curriculum.
  • Strengthened discipline in the classroom and gave teachers’ protection from frivolous lawsuits.
  • Created Georgia’s first voucher program for education that allows parents of children with special needs to send their child to the public or private school of their choice.

To read more on Eric’s plans to improve Georgia schools, click here.

Protecting Our Communities

Eric’s limited government philosophy allows him to focus on the issues that are truly the responsibility of the State. One of those primary responsibilities is protecting citizens and keeping neighborhoods safe. As a legislator, Eric has worked with state and local law enforcement to fund cutting edge public safety programs and strengthen penalties for those that break our laws.

  • Eric sponsored the “Know Thy Neighbor Act” that required the Board of Pardons and Paroles to set up a system whereby any citizen can obtain a list of parolees, including their address and crime.
  • Increased penalties for child abuse and made it a felony to seriously injure a child.
  • Helped pass the nation’s toughest laws against sexual predators and illegal immigration.

Eric has also laid out a detailed proposal to strengthen our anti-illegal immigration laws and to hold the federal government accountable for their failure to protect our borders.  To read more, click here.

Defending Our Values

Eric has spent his time in public service upholding the values of everyday Georgians. He has stood strong for smaller government, lower taxes, personal responsibility, local control, and individual freedom. He has never wavered in his convictions. And, as Governor, Georgians will always know where he stands.

  • Eric helped amend the Georgia Constitution to protect our hunting and fishing rights, to uphold private property rights, and to defend the sanctity of marriage.
  • Wrote legislation to allow student-initiated prayer in classrooms and at school events.
  • Recognized by pro-life, 2nd Amendment, and taxpayer groups for his leadership.
  • Led the fight to ensure that legislators who tell you to pay your taxes are forced to pay theirs.
  • Chaired the Senate Ethics Committee and fought to strengthen Georgia’s ethics laws. To learn more about Eric’s support of higher ethical standards, click here.
  • Investing in Public Infrastructure that supports private sector growth such as roads, bridges, and water reservoirs. For more, click here.

  • General Election Polling

    Poll Source Dates administered John Oxendine (R) Roy Barnes (D)
    Rasmussen Reports May 20, 2010 43% 39%
    Rasmussen Reports April 22, 2010 45% 43%
    Rasmussen Reports March 17, 2010 41% 41%
    Public Policy Polling February 26–28, 2010 39% 41%
    Rasmussen Reports February 18, 2010 45% 37%
    Rasmussen Reports January 20, 2010 44% 42%
    Research 2000 April 29, 2009 46% 44%
    Public Policy Polling November 23, 2008 43% 42%
    Poll Source Dates administered Nathan Deal (R) Roy Barnes (D)
    Rasmussen Reports May 20, 2010 47% 40%
    Rasmussen Reports April 22, 2010 46% 39%
    Rasmussen Reports March 17, 2010 43% 41%
    Public Policy Polling February 26–28, 2010 38% 43%
    Rasmussen Reports February 18, 2010 43% 37%
    Rasmussen Reports January 20, 2010 42% 43%
    Poll Source Dates administered Karen Handel (R) Roy Barnes (D)
    Rasmussen Reports May 20, 2010 42% 39%
    Rasmussen Reports April 22, 2010 42% 41%
    Rasmussen Reports March 17, 2010 42% 39%
    Public Policy Polling February 26–28, 2010 37% 41%
    Rasmussen Reports February 18, 2010 45% 36%
    Rasmussen Reports January 20, 2010 42% 43%
    Poll Source Dates administered Eric Johnson (R) Roy Barnes (D)
    Rasmussen Reports May 20, 2010 38% 42%
    Rasmussen Reports April 22, 2010 37% 42%
    Rasmussen Reports March 17, 2010 38% 40%
    Rasmussen Reports February 18, 2010 37% 37%

    The Republicans: The race for governor

    Published July 5, 1010 – The Valdosta Daily Times

    Nathan Deal

    By Cameron McWhirter – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Recently, Nathan Deal’s campaign SUV stopped outside Cartersville at Bartow Precast, a small company that makes concrete septic tanks, grease traps and storm drain enclosures. He met the company’s president, Michael Tidwell, and learned about his struggles to keep going during the recession — without laying off employees.

    “I believe Georgians need a governor that is as solid as this piece of concrete,” he said, pounding his fist. Some polls show Deal gathering support.

    A Rasmussen poll of likely Georgia voters released May 24 found Deal fared the best of any Republican against Roy Barnes, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate who has raised the most money. The poll reported three GOP candidates leading Barnes, but Deal led by the largest margin, 47 to 40 percent.

    North Georgia voters have elected Deal nine times, each by a wide margin, in what has become one of the region’s most conservative congressional districts. The American Conservative Union in 2009 gave Deal a 100 percent rating. He voted against President George W. Bush’s bank bailout and President Barack Obama’s stimulus package. Before he resigned this spring, Deal’s last official act was to vote against Obama’s health care overhaul. His issue this campaign is jobs, and he sees the answer as low corporate taxes and less government red tape.

    “You don’t have to guess where I stand on issues,” Deal said. “You can go look at my voting record.” Whatever Deal’s plans for state prosperity, his personal finances have been troubled of late.

    Deal, who became a multimillionaire while in Congress, is today part owner of a real estate and rental business as well as an aviation company. He owns half of Gainesville Salvage and Disposal, a car salvage business that for years had an agreement to handle damaged vehicles in North Georgia. Deal also became a principal investor in a store owned by his daughter and her husband.

    Deal has seen his property values and rental income plummet during the recession, but the last two investments have caused him the most headaches. In 2009, The AJC reported Deal’s congressional staff met with state officials three times in 2008 and 2009 to discuss changes in salvaged car inspections. The changes would have opened up competition for Deal’s business, which was one of only a handful that had lucrative agreements with the state. A congressional ethics office blasted Deal, saying he “took active steps to preserve a purely state program, one that had generated financial benefit for Rep. Deal and his business partner.” Because Deal left office, congressional investigators took no further action.

    Deal bristles when the matter is raised. He said he was only concerned with how the program’s changes would affect car safety, not his own finances. The business no longer participates in the program.

    In 2008, Deal invested in a sporting goods business started by a daughter and her husband. The business failed, and now Deal carries $2.1 million in related debts, records show.

    But as the July 20 GOP primary looms, Deal’s biggest challenge is standing out amid other candidates with conservative pedigrees, flashier campaigns and louder voices.

    Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a GOP congressman from North Georgia, is a strong Deal supporter. “Nathan is more calm, more precisioned,” he said. “He’s not trying to woo anybody with any type of craziness.” What friends call calm, critics call disengaged. McCracken Poston, who lost a congressional race to Deal in 1996, said Deal’s many years in Congress have been uneventful and unproductive.

    Deal, a lifelong Georgian, began his political career in the 1970s as a Democrat, like most Southerners at the time. From 1981 to 1993, he served in the Georgia Senate, rising to become the chamber’s second in command. In 1992, he was elected to Congress.

    But momentous changes took place soon after he arrived in Washington. With the 1994 midterm elections, Republicans took control of the House. Newt Gingrich of Marietta became speaker.

    In 1995, Deal switched parties. Democrats called him disloyal. They backed Poston in 1996, but Deal won handily. Thereafter, Deal rose to become a senior if not top member of the House. For years he headed a powerful health care subcommittee. In almost two decades in Congress, he never led a full committee. Many donors to his campaigns and leadership political action committee were pharmaceutical and health care companies.

    Asked about legislation Deal sponsored, his campaign cited his role in 2005 negotiations that reduced entitlement programs by billions of dollars. Deal pushed for wording that required Medicaid recipients to show valid identification, stopping illegal immigrants from getting care.

    At a recent Rotary luncheon in Cartersville, Deal spoke about how he wants to cut the corporate tax by one-third. He wants a tough illegal immigration bill, similar to one recently passed in Arizona that authorizes local police to arrest immigrants without documentation. He wants tighter borders.

    Deal said the state’s financial crisis demands the next governor shrink government. But when pressed, he declined to specify what he would cut. “I’ll have to look over the books when I get in there,” he said.

    Karen Handel

    By Aaron Gould Sheinin – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Karen Handel is a planner, the kind of person who wants to know that before she takes the first step, the second and third are already mapped out. Like when she refused to buy a condo with her then fiance, Steve.

    “Frankly, I didn’t want to sign the papers before we actually walked down the aisle,” said Handel, a former Fulton County Commission chairwoman, former secretary of state and current Republican gubernatorial hopeful.

    They did get married, and they did buy that condo — but in that order. That kind of careful plotting is a product, she said, of a troubled childhood that saw her leave home in Upper Marlboro, Md., at 17 rather than stay with an alcoholic mother who pulled a gun on her.

    “When you come from instability, you’re always thinking a couple of steps ahead,” she said. By now, much of this background has become campaign legend — and caused controversy.

    Handel doesn’t hide the fact that she struggled to finish high school and never graduated from college. Political opponents have floated rumors that she earned a general equivalency diploma in high school, which she strongly denies. She started taking courses at night and on weekends at Prince Georges Community College and a satellite campus of the University of Maryland until she discovered she could take accounting classes and sit for the accountant’s exam without graduating.

    “Remember the context of my life,” she said. “I’m on my own at 17. My first job was at AARP. I think I made $9,050 a year. The idea I could go to college at night, get enough credits in accounting and sit for the CPA, I was like, ‘Wow, I can have a real life.'”

    She never got that far. She landed a job in the government affairs office at Hallmark Cards and never looked back. Soon, she was working for Marilyn Quayle in the office of the wife of Vice President Dan Quayle. She rose to deputy chief of staff, met her future husband and eventually moved into that condo.

    Later the Handels moved to Georgia, where she continued to work in corporate America and, in 2000, was named president and chief executive officer of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce. She ran for a seat on the Fulton County Commission in 2002 and lost. She quickly rebounded and was named deputy chief of staff to newly elected Gov. Sonny Perdue. In 2003, she took a leave of absence from Perdue’s office when Fulton County Commission Chairman Mike Kenn resigned with three years left on his term. Handel jumped into the race. This time she won and immediately discovered the county budget was a wreck, nearly $100 million in the red. She said she worked with Democrats and Republicans to find the cuts they needed.

    Instead of seeking a full term on the commission, in 2006 she ran and won election as Georgia’s first Republican secretary of state. But she left a lasting impression on Art Geter, a community activist in the Cascade Knolls neighborhood of south Fulton. A Democrat and self-described straight shooter, he said that Handel was a pleasant surprise.

    “We had a good relationship,” Geter said. “She was reasonable for me to work with on issues I’m dealing with. I’m the kind of guy like this, I don’t agree with everything nobody does, including my wife of 49 years. Just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean we can’t be open and respectful.”

    Another episode from her time as a candidate for the commission continues to dog her campaign for governor. The former head of the Log Cabin Republicans, a group of gay and lesbian GOP voters, recently released e-mails from 2002 and 2003, all sent from Handel’s e-mail address, that indicate Handel supported granting benefits to county employees in same-sex domestic partnerships, something she has since denied often. Her campaign has said that even though the e-mail is signed “Fondly, Karen” she didn’t write it. It was her campaign manager in her failed 2002 race.

    The only thing that matters, Handel said, is that when she was elected to the County Commission, she voted against a proposal to extend benefits to domestic partners.

    Handel’s time as secretary of state — she served until late 2009 when she resigned to run for governor — was marked by her successful effort to implement the controversial Voter ID program. She cut the agency’s budget by 15 percent without cutting employees and created an anti-fraud unit that she names among her proudest achievements.

    She also created and implemented another voting measure that checks the citizenship of people when they register to vote. That program was criticized by the Justice Department as unfairly targeting minorities and is also now in the courts.

    Her work on Voter ID and the citizenship checks made her a hero to many on the right, despite the Justice Department’s findings that her system is not “accurate and reliable.” But in a Republican primary, Handel has used the Justice Department’s rejection as a rallying cry. “Allowing non-Americans to vote is simply un-American,” Handel said.

    Eric Johnson

    By James Salzer – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Eric Johnson spent most of his career as a Democrat-skewering, politically incorrect, tax-hating bomb-thrower. But Georgians saw another side of Johnson in early 2003 when the Senate Republican leader announced he would back new Gov. Sonny Perdue’s plan to raise cigarette taxes.

    The state was in a recession, and Perdue had called for a tax hike that was immediately opposed by many Republicans. Johnson’s support helped keep the increase — and Perdue’s first budget — from going down the tubes in the GOP’s first year in power since Reconstruction.

    “It would have been easy to say, ‘We’re not going to do it,’ and leave a brand-new governor in the middle of a recession hanging out there all by himself,” said Johnson of Savannah, who resigned from the Senate last year. “That’s not leadership.”

    After a decade of being the Statehouse’s most quotable member of the opposition, the outsider became an insider responsible for setting — and defending — the leadership’s agenda. And now he’s seeking to make that transformation complete by becoming governor.

    Early polling has Johnson fourth in the GOP race, but with deep-pocketed Republican backing and three decades of campaign experience, those who know him say don’t count him out.

    “He is a very, very good strategist,” said Gary Wisenbaker, a Savannah lawyer and longtime GOP activist. “He thinks, ‘This may not work in the short term, but it may carry us in the long term.’”

    That kind of long-term outlook has been important for Johnson, a Louisiana-born architect who got his start on the campaign of Mack Mattingly when he upset Democrat U.S. Senator Herman Talmadge in 1980.

    Johnson did grassroots work for the GOP until he decided to run for the state House in 1992. At the time, Democrats had been running the state for 120 years and Republicans held 45 of 236 legislative seats. Johnson won that election and then took a Senate seat two years later. He quickly made a name for himself as a sharp-witted spokesman for Republicans.

    Johnson became leader of the Senate Republicans in 1998, the same year Democrat Roy Barnes became governor. He fought Barnes’ attempts to change the state flag, which included the Confederate battle emblem, saying he opposed the way Barnes changed the flag without a public vote.

    “To me, the whole flag issue had nothing to do with race and everything to do with Southern pride and what makes the South special,” he said.

    In 2000, Johnson complained about the Democrats’ school reform package and huge increases in education spending.

    When Republicans became the majority party, Johnson had a different role to play. And some of his statements left him open to charges of flip-flopping.

    When Perdue proposed a large increase in education spending six years after Barnes did, Johnson said, “Investing in children is never a bad deal.”

    As a member of the minority, Johnson criticized Democratic leaders for raising big money — often from lobbyists — even when they didn’t face opposition.

    Now he brags that his state Senate campaigns raised more than $1 million.

    Johnson consistently worked to grow the GOP in Georgia. He helped get Perdue elected governor in 2002, and then helped persuade some Democrats to switch parties in the Senate.

    As a member of the new leadership, Johnson held sway over legislation and pushed many of his own bills, including legislation to provide state money to parents to pay for private schools.

    Like the Democrats he criticized, Johnson also made sure he looked after his hometown, getting money in the state budget for construction and tourist projects in Savannah.

    He backed a sales tax exemption in 2007 on equipment used in the repair of aircraft not registered in Georgia. The savings, which went largely to a local company, Gulfstream, was estimated at $11.6 million a year.

    A little more than a month after the exemption passed, Gulfstream announced that it was leasing two buildings from the company Johnson worked for, North Point Real Estate.

    Johnson said the tax break and leases were not related. He said the tax break came out of negotiations that he was not involved in to keep company business in Savannah. And, he said, North Point won the leases through a competitive bid process.

    Throughout his career, Johnson has worked on meaty issues, including Atlanta’s sewer repairs, and headline-grabbing efforts, such as his bid to slow the issuance of Florida Gator license tags.

    John Oxendine

    By Carrie Teegardin – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Insurance Commissioner John W. Oxendine has the credentials to be one of Georgia’s most influential Republican insiders.

    He won his statewide office in 1994 when Georgia was still controlled by Democrats. And he’s been a favorite among voters ever since: No candidate running statewide in 2006 earned more votes than Oxendine. In spite of his success, he’s not well-liked within the Republican establishment, and that suits him just fine. “I’m popular with everyday Georgians. Everyday Georgians are the ones that vote,” he said.

    Oxendine is clearly the candidate to beat in the Republican primary, in spite of some bumps along the campaign trail. He’s been the front-runner for months and has more cash on hand than his rivals, according to disclosure reports. He says he’s in the lead because of a populist approach to governing that has more in common with the tea party crowd than the Republican elite.

    “My entire career has been focused on that person down the street,” he said. As insurance commissioner, Oxendine licenses insurance companies and agents, reviews companies for solvency, sets rates for some types of insurance and investigates complaints. His office also oversees fire safety statewide and regulates the industry that makes small loans of $3,000 or less.

    On the campaign trail, Oxendine points to a long list of accomplishments such as helping consumers mediate disputes with insurers, fining insurers who don’t follow the rules and pioneering a telemedicine program that helps rural Georgians access better health care.

    Some experts say his record on consumer protection is mixed. “John is kind of a funny guy,” said Bob Hunter, the Consumer Federation of America’s director of insurance and a former Texas insurance commissioner. “He goes both directions. There are times when he is pro consumer and times when he seems to give away the store.”

    An analysis of state auto insurance rates shows that Georgia’s insurers earn profits at about the national average and have won rate increases on par with the nation as well. Oxendine has levied significant fines, including a $2.3 million penalty against United Healthcare in 2005 for slow payment of claims. He also opposed an effort to legalize payday lending, a move consumer advocates applauded.

    His record as a consumer champion isn’t as strong on lower-profile issues. He has not sought changes to the small loan industry he regulates, even though the cost of borrowing a few hundred dollars from the storefront lenders often exceeds 100 percent. He also has allowed insurers selling disability policies with loans to earn some of the highest profits in the nation, according to an analysis.

    If he becomes governor, Oxendine said his most pressing task would be addressing Georgia’s unemployment problem. Elected at 32, Oxendine was a little known former Democrat from Gwinnett County when he upset incumbent Insurance Commissioner Tim Ryles.

    Oxendine, who switched parties about a year before his first campaign, said he identifies strongly with Republican ideals: pro-life, pro-guns, small government, no tax increases.

    Since his election in 1994, Oxendine has never offered the public an understated personal style. Even some of his supporters say he can be brash, outspoken and full of himself. He’s attracted criticism over the years for taking lots of campaign money from those he regulates.

    Oxendine has also been criticized for enjoying all the perks of his job, whether it’s taking quail-hunting trips courtesy of insurance companies, demanding that high-powered executives appear before him or using the lights and sirens he once had on his state vehicle in his role as the safety fire commissioner.

    Criticisms related to campaign fund-raising resurfaced last year when the AJC reported that a Rome-based insurer funneled $120,000 to Oxendine’s campaign through 10 Alabama-based political action committees. The State Ethics Commission has an ongoing investigation. Oxendine returned the money. “The fact is, everything I have done has been completely above board and in compliance,” he said.

    While some critics portray him as an industry guy, others who have dealt with him as a regulator disagree. Some in the industry say he will let you take him out to an expensive dinner one day, and hit you with a big fine the next, if you deserve it.

    Jill Jinks, an insurance executive and longtime supporter of the commissioner, said Oxendine would be a hands-on leader. “John would be a pothole governor,” she said. “He’s going to get things fixed. He is not a policy guy. That’s just not in him. He’s the guy who is going to fix the pothole himself.”

    Related Links:

    Southern Political Report: Update: Georgia’s governor’s race is anyone’s ballgame

    AJC: Oxendine carries $1.83 million into stretch run

    Peach Pundit: Eric Johnson Making A Late Move?