Handel, Deal focus on abortion; voters want to hear about jobs

 By Aaron Gould Sheinin 4:56 p.m. Monday, July 26, 2010   Contrary to popular belief,…

Georgia (Jul 27, 2010) By Aaron Gould Sheinin


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4:56 p.m. Monday, July 26, 2010


Contrary to popular belief, Karen Handel and Nathan Deal actually have discussed more than just abortion in their runoff campaign for the GOP nomination for governor.

But, for some voters, it's still too much.

"The state has 10 percent unemployment and the worst budget crisis ever, and they want to fight over things that happened in the '90s," said James Williams, 42, of DeKalb County, who said he supported Handel in the primary. "It makes me angry enough to skip voting for the first time in my life."

One week since Handel and Deal emerged as the top two finishers in the primary, their campaigns for the Aug. 10 runoff have narrowed in focus, tone and appeal. With five fewer candidates now running, the pair are focusing exclusively on each other and trying to find any advantage they can to persuade Republican voters to return to the polls.

Deal and Handel do occasionally discuss topics other than abortion. On Monday, for example, Handel released an education plan that focuses on technology in the classroom, performance-based pay for teachers and attacking the state's dropout rate. Deal has tried to focus on his plan for economic development and taxes that would, among other things, eliminate the "marriage tax penalty" and cut the corporate income tax by a third.

But the actual visibility of the campaigns has been somewhat limited as both work the phones to replenish spent campaign coffers. There's been two joint appearances, one debate, one new television ad and a lot of sniping via Twitter. Still, through their limited appearances, statements of campaigns and surrogates, social issues in general and abortion in particular have played a big role.

For some voters, there is little difference between Handel, a former secretary of state, and Deal, a former congressman, when it comes to other issues. On taxes, for example, both favor cutting them. They both promise to help small businesses. They both want to protect teachers and to limit the size and scope of government.

That leaves little ground for the two to try to distinguish themselves, said Kerwin Swint, a political scientist at Kennesaw State University who has followed the race closely. And one area where they disagree is abortion.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu