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Advice from mamas pays off for 2 grateful men

POSTED: December 19, 2010 12:30 a.m.

In 1992, I had a temporary loss of mental stability and decided to run for the Georgia House of Representatives.

I did not win. I lost narrowly in a runoff.

No one worked harder for me than my mama. She would ride all over North Hall handing out brochures and asking folks to vote for her son.

There was a candidate in another race who also had his mama campaigning for him. His name was Nathan Deal.

When I didn't win, my mother offered a little motherly advice. "You should get involved with that Mr. Deal. I think he's going places."

Move ahead 17 years.

As mothers so often are, mine was right. Mr. Deal was going places. When he offered me the opportunity to join his campaign for governor in May 2009, I said yes. I did so hearing the sage advice of my mother in my mind.

Going to work in a political campaign is a gamble. But I knew Nathan Deal and had covered him for years as a reporter. He was smart and I thought he had the right stuff to be the next governor.

I have heard successful political campaigns referred to as "textbook" campaigns. They run according to plans and the outcome is positive.

They have not written a textbook for the Deal gubernatorial campaign. The only written material that would fit was Psalm 23. We took the extended route through the valley of the shadow of death. Several times, we had a table prepared before us in the presence of our enemies.

But we made it out and won.

When you spend lots of time with someone, you get to know them. I know Nathan Deal quite well. If he wasn't a candidate for governor, he would be a great candidate for neighbor. He is kind and caring and has a real soft spot for the underdogs in life.

I spent a lot of time on the road with his wife, Sandra. We drove down long, lonesome roads in deep South Georgia singing along with a gospel CD that we must have played a hundred times. She, too, has become a special person in my life.

I promised my editors that I would not mention politics or Nathan Deal in my column. But now he's less than a month away from becoming governor and this will be my one and only column about him.

Deal and I have a few things in common: We both lost our dads early and we both miss our mamas a lot.

Like anyone who has lost a loved one, I often wonder just how much those who have gone to heaven know about our activities here on Earth. In my most wishful thinking, I want to believe that there is an occasional chance to look in on us.

I hope that on Jan. 10, Mary Deal and Betty Blackwood are standing beside the viewing portal when Nathan Deal becomes the 82nd governor of Georgia.

"That's my son," Mrs. Deal will say. My mama will nudge her and say, "See that man with the big grin. That's my son and he was right there with him."

Mamas know best.

Harris Blackwood is a columnist for The Times. His column appears every week in Sunday Life.



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