Washington (CNN) – No clear winner emerged Tuesday from the hard-fought runoff for the Georgia Republican gubernatorial nomination, setting up a possible recount to settle this GOP contest less than three months before the November election.
Ex-Rep. Nathan Deal leads former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel by 2,489 votes, a margin so small that Handel can demand a recount if it holds. Provisional ballots can still be counted until Thursday, while military and overseas votes are due by the close of business on Friday, Georgia Secretary of State spokesman Matt Carrothers told CNN.
The election will be certified next week and if the margin that separates the two candidates is less than one percent, then the loser can request a recount under state law. Right now, the difference between Deal and Handel is 0.4%.
The national spotlight turned on this race when several potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates weighed in on this race to replace retiring Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue. Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney endorsed Handel, while Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich backed Deal.
The winner of this runoff will face former Gov. Roy Barnes, who was the clear victor in the July Democratic primary.