Rating Change: Georgia Governor
Posted at 5 a.m. on May 23
Gov. Nathan Deal had no problems in the Republican primary this week, but the November general election could be a different story.
Democrats held the governorship in Georgia for more than 130 years, until Republican Sonny Perdue defeated incumbent Gov. Roy Barnes in an upset in 2002. It looked like Democrats wouldn’t get another shot at the governor’s mansion for years to come, but a couple of missteps by Deal in his first term and his opponent’s unique pedigree could give Democrats an opportunity later this year.
Deal easily disposed of two primary opponents on Tuesday, winning 72 percent in a race that some people thought could be troublesome. But Deal’s mishandling of the state’s winter storm response has thrown a bit of uncertainty into the governor’s general election prospects.
Democrats nominated state Sen. Jason Carter, grandson of the former president and one-time Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter. Strategists believe Carter and Senate nominee Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn, can draw on years of goodwill from their family names to avoid being tagged with a national Democratic label that would torpedo their statewide efforts.
Jimmy Carter hasn’t been on the ballot in nearly 35 years, and he probably couldn’t win the Peach State anymore. At the same time, limited public polling shows that Deal can’t take this race for granted. We’re changing our Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rating of the race from Safe Republican to Republican Favored.