U.S Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Gainesville, easily turned back a Democratic challenger in Tuesday’s election.
Deal captured a landslide victory over Jeff Scott, a Walker County middle school teacher who was making his first try at political office.
Districtwide, Deal has maintained an average of 74 percent of the vote throughout the night.
The eight-term congressman said his opponent was very gracious in his concession and ran a campaign that focused on the issues.
The 66-year-old Deal will go to the 111th Congress as a member of much smaller Republican Party.
“We’ve already seen with the margins (Democrats) had before that they did not allow full and open debate of issues on the floor of the House,” Deal said. “I’m afraid this may increase the frequency of that kind of action, which I think is unfortunate because you don’t have the issues fully debated in public.”
Deal, who spent election night at his North Hall County home with his family and staff, ran a low-key campaign, fueling speculation among his supporters that this might be his last election.
Deal, a former state senator, went to Washington in 1992 as a conservative Democrat and switched parties in 1995, following the Republican takeover of the House and Senate in the 1994 election. As a Republican, he has captured sizeable margins against Democrats and Tuesday was no exception.
“I’m overwhelmed with the victory and the percentages are substantial,” he said.
Deal said he was concerned by the pickup of seats in the U.S. Senate, pushing Democrats closer to the 60 vote super majority.
“If any party doesn’t have the 60 votes, they at least have to deal with the minority party on the Senate side, often making the Senate a buffer. The closer they get to 60, the more difficult it makes it for any minority party.”
Deal, a former chairman of the Health subcommittee, has been the ranking member of that panel in the current session of congress.
He said lawmakers will return to Capitol Hill later this month for a “lame duck” session. He predicts an effort to spend an additional $300 billion in an economic bailout.
Deal earlier joined the six other Georgia House Republicans in voting against the $700 billion bailout.