July 20th, 2010
09:55 PM ET
10 years ago

Barnes wins Democratic gubernatorial nod, avoids runoff

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) - Former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes has won his state's Democratic gubernatorial nomination, according to a projection by the Associated Press. But it appears Barnes will have to wait until next month to find out who his Republican opponent will be in November's general election.

With 74 percent of precincts reporting, an unofficial count of the primary contests by AP indicated that Barnes had captured 63.8 percent of the vote, with state Attorney General Thurbert Baker at 21.5 percent. Five other Democratic gubernatorial candidates were in the single digits.

Barnes appeared to be looking to the general election even before Tuesday's primary. Over the weekend he surprised some by saying he would sign an Arizona-style immigration bill if elected governor.

By grabbing more than 50 percent of the vote, Barnes avoids a runoff contest on August 10.

That doesn't appear to be the case the competitive Republican gubernatorial battle.

With 74 percent of precincts reporting, former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel led the GOP contest with 32.3 percent of the vote. Former Rep. Nathan Deal was in second, at 24 percent, followed by former state Sen. Eric Johnson at 19.7 and state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine at 17.2 percent. Three other candidates were in single digits.

AP projected that Handel will advance to the runoff election. She'll face off against which ever candidate finishes second in the primary.

Last week, former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin backed Handel for governor. Public opinion surveys indicated that the endorsement helped propel Handel into the front-runner position. Until the endorsement, surveys stretching back to last year indicated that Oxendine was the candidate to beat.

On her Facebook page, Palin called Handel a reformer who will "strengthen ... families, businesses, state and, ultimately, our United States." Handel also went up with a campaign commercial that mentioned that she's the only female candidate in the contest.

The Republican race turned bitter following Palin's endorsement, with a tough new ad from the Oxendine campaign taking on Handel, and the Handel and Deal campaigns, accusing each other of playing the gender card.

Oxendine was the subject of unflattering investigative pieces about a possible corruption probe in the 1990s. Oxendine was never charged with wrongdoing, and he has insisted that he did not know he was ever investigated, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And the Handel-Deal war of words has raised their profiles.

Deal was the subject of a congressional ethics probe before stepping down from his House seat in March to pursue a gubernatorial run. He has denied wrongdoing.

"It's been clear for a while that this would be a race to the runoff, and it looks like Palin's endorsement has helped Handel, not only get to the runoff but potentially finish first on Tuesday," said Nathan Gonzales, political editor of the nonpartisan Rothenberg Political Report. "Palin has a following within the Republican Party, and in a multi-candidate contest, she can have impact."

In May, Palin endorsed little-known South Carolina state lawmaker Nikki Haley in that state's GOP gubernatorial nomination battle. Palin's backing helped Haley jump from the bottom of the pack to front-runner, according to state polls. Haley ended up coming out on top in South Carolina's June 8 primary, capturing nearly 50 percent of the vote in a four-candidate field. Two weeks later, Haley easily won the runoff election to take the nomination.

Filed under: 2010 • Georgia • Roy Barnes
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Muffet

    Georgia continues to be controlled by the good ole boys of the back woods. These good ole boys are threatened by progress and diversity. They held tight control over Purdue. With that said it would be suicidal if Georgians put another puppet in the drivers seat. Purdue set the state bac k 40 years. Glad to see him and his wealthy good ole backwoods boys go.

    July 20, 2010 10:26 pm at 10:26 pm |
  2. HD 100% ETH

    Eleven years ago, the Governer Barners POLITICAL MIND-SET were different from now, specially after September, 11,2001.
    I wonder, how the same Governer could manage by recallibriating his mentality to fit with the current rules we have now.
    He might have unfinished work from the 1999 to 2003 that wouldn't be consider at this time as well.

    July 20, 2010 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  3. snow

    HEY LIBERALS, NOBUMMER LIED TO YOU AGAIN. Remember when campaigning he said no new taxes for the middle class, well it seems that is a lie. To defend his health care deformity, his justice department says requiring people to pay for health care insurance is a tax and guess what, we all get taxed. Don't believe me, check out the filing.

    July 20, 2010 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  4. Chuck in Jasper Ga.

    Congratulations Roy. I have and will continue to support your run back to the Governors Mansion.

    July 21, 2010 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  5. Francisco Cardenas

    "Over the weekend he surprised some by saying he would sign an Arizona-style immigration bill if elected governor."

    what a creep! ... just shows that Democrats and just as racists as republicans!

    July 21, 2010 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  6. greg in jacksonville

    So it seems sarah palin handpicking the republican political landscape. i am not sure the rest of the country will fall in line behind palin's vision. for the record, not afraid of sarah palin, just her followers.

    July 21, 2010 07:42 am at 7:42 am |