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Deal proves to be a formidable foe against Democratic opponent
Democratic challenger Jeff Scott

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Nathan Deal
Occupation: U.S. representative
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Mercer University; law degree from Mercer School of Law
Family: Wife, Sandra; four children; six grandchildren

Jeff Scott
Occupation: Educator
Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Tennessee-Chattanooga in multidisciplinary education and supervision; Educational Specialist and Ph.D. from the University of Alabama in Leadership, Technology, and Policy
Family: Wife, Holly

The 9th Congressional District is traditionally one of the most Republican-leaning districts in the state.

In 2004, it gave more than 70 percent of its vote to President Bush’s re-election bid. It has also been a safe haven for U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, R-Gainesville.

Deal, first elected to his seat as a Democrat in 1992, has been re-elected by 65 percent or more of the vote since 1996, when he starting running as a Republican.

Prior to the 1992 election, the district had been conservative. Ed Jenkins, a Jasper Democrat who served from 1977 to 1992, was often at odds with the more liberal House Democrats. Jenkins’ independence is cited by some observers for keeping him from moving up in the House leadership.

The two congressmen are similar in that they are quiet, unassuming men who shunned the Washington spotlight and were unlikely to rush to the nearest microphone.

Deal, 66, has been making the commute to Washington for 16 years. His friends and closest supporters say the lawmaker has grown tired of the grind. He flies to Washington on Mondays when the House is in session and comes home on Friday.

Since switching to the Republican party in 1995, he has largely been a behind-the-scenes player on Capitol Hill. He rose to the chairmanship of the Health subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

When Democrats took control of the House two years ago, he became the ranking member of the subcommittee.

A Walker County educator, Jeff Scott, 35, is the Democratic nominee facing Deal in Tuesday’s election.

Scott has only received token support from the Democratic party and had raised nearly $11,000 from individuals, according to his Sept. 30 report to the Federal Elections Commission. He reported having $8,817 on hand.

Deal had $286,000 on hand in the same reporting period.

The incumbent has spent advertising money on radio commercials in the district and has sent at least one district-wide campaign mailout. Both candidates have held town hall meetings across the district, Those held by Scott concentrated on the counties near his home in Walker County, with the exception of one held in Dahlonega.

Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, said the 9th District is GOP territory.

“You don’t see any blue counties up there when you look at the presidential or gubernatorial vote,” Bullock said.

“The (Democratic) party is simply happy to have a name on the ballot, but they’re not going to invest any resources because they don’t see that they have any chance,” he said.

A number of possible Republican contenders are said to be eyeing the district for 2010 should Deal not seek re-election.

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