Look for your Voters Guide to the election in Sunday's print edition of The Times.
Flanked by Republican allies on either side, Gov. Nathan Deal step forward on the stage, took to the microphone and basked in chants of “four more years” from the few hundred supporters gathered Saturday afternoon inside the Gainesville Civic Center.
It was the end of the governor’s statewide bus tour, the last leg of campaigning in a life of politics that has sent Deal to Washington, D.C. and now back home to Hall County for one more re-election bid.
“I’ve had a great run,” Deal had told members of the media backstage prior to the rally, which featured Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, Secretary of State Brian Kemp and 9th District U.S. Congressman Doug Collins, among other Republican candidates for office.
Collins fired up the crowd with a Halloween-themed rallying cry, calling on Democrats like gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter to take off the mask and reveal their true intentions for Georgia.
Collins called on voters to “put down” Carter and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn.
Joining the rally was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, boisterous as ever and never shy about his reputation for confrontation.
“Let me tell you, everybody’s going to be watching Georgia on Tuesday night,” Christie said. “Are you ready?”
Christie has spent much of the last week visiting state after state, from Arizona to Ohio to Georgia, campaigning on behalf of GOP candidates for governor.
His presence in Gainesville, Christie said, had less to do with rallying the established conservative base than with spreading Deal’s message to those on the sidelines.
Christie encouraged those in attendance to reach out to their friends, family, co-workers and neighbors, telling them why they should support Deal and other GOP candidates on Election Day.
“You need to tell them you’re working for Nathan Deal,” Christie said, adding that a little nudge might be necessary “right in the small of the back like we do in New Jersey. ... Isn’t that what I’m known for, being gentle?”
Deal said he thinks he can avoid a runoff, and pointed to strong turnout during the early voting period as a good sign of his chances for winning one more term in office.
“We’ve ridden all over this state for the past week and we have had great reception from people all over Georgia,” Deal said.