Gubernatorial hopefuls Roy Barnes and Nathan Deal spent the final day of the campaign season flying around the state to greet supporters, hoping to squeeze as much as possible into the final hours before Election Day.
The fly-around, in which candidates address supporters and media at airports around the state, has become the traditional final campaign activity for top-of-the-ballot candidates.
Deal, of Gainesville, was greeted Monday night by cheering friends and supporters at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport after wrapping up his tour of the state.
Deal and his wife Sandra stepped off the small plane smiling and holding hands as they waved to friends holding signs and sporting campaign T-shirts and stickers.
“It’s always nice to come home,” Deal said. “Gainesville and Hall County has certainly been very gracious and very kind to me and to my wife during this whole campaign. People have worked hard here as the results have shown ... you couldn’t ask for a better community for support than what we have right here.”
Gainesville was not a scheduled stop on the fly-around tour, and Deal said he did not expect so many people would be at the airport to greet him.
“It was a little bit of a surprise,” Deal said.
Among those at the hangar Monday were a handful of local politicians who came out to show their support.
“Great leaders never forget where they came from and Nathan’s a great leader,” said Rep. James Mills, R-Chestnut Mountain.
Former state senator Lee Hawkins said Deal has solid support from his hometown.
“These people here have known him most of his life. They have a lot of faith in him,” Hawkins said, scanning the familiar faces in the room. “We’re all going to be very proud.”
Deal flew with others on the Republican ticket, including Sen. Johnny Isakson, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Gov. Sonny Perdue also went along for the ride. Flying in three airplanes, the Republicans visited Columbus, Macon, Tifton, Savannah, Augusta and Atlanta.
The goal for the Republicans was to show a united front.
“I thought it went very well. We do have a great slate of candidates from the top to the bottom. The message we wanted to get out today was that we are a group that can work together as a team,” Deal said. “We believe we can do some very good and profitable things for the state of Georgia.”
Barnes shared an airplane with fellow Democrat Darryl Hicks, who is running for labor commissioner.
Barnes — who visited Dalton, Augusta, Savannah, Albany, Valdosta, Columbus, Macon and Atlanta — hoped to leave voters with the message that he is ready to start working day one to improve the economy.
“Roy Barnes is a proven leader who will make Georgia work and who doesn’t need on-the-job training. While Roy was governor, Georgia ranked fourth in the nation in job growth, creating 235,000 jobs,” Barnes spokesman Emil Runge said.
“Roy is reaching out to voters in all corners of the state visiting eight cities (Monday) and over 100 counties during the campaign. This is the final day before the election to reach out to the voters so Roy is traveling to as many cities as possible as we build on the momentum and great crowds we’ve received throughout our Make Georgia Work tour.”