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Campaign attacks arent a Deal-breaker so far
Despite financial problems, negative ads, ex-congressman still strong in polls, fundraising
1010GOVERNORRoy Barnes
Roy Barnes

Cagle seeks 2nd term in quiet lt. governor's race

Elections Guide

GOVERNOR

Roy Barnes
Party:
Democratic
Age: 62
Home: Marietta
Education: University of Georgia, undergrad and law degrees
Experience: Barnes served one term as governor, from 1999 to 2003, before being ousted by Sonny Perdue. He was a state senator from 1975 to 1991 and a member of the state House from 1993 to 1999. After leaving the governor's office, Barnes spent six months as a volunteer lawyer with Atlanta Legal Aid, then opened the Barnes Law Group in Marietta.

Nathan Deal
Party: Republican
Age: 67
Home: Gainesville
Education: Mercer University, undergraduate and law degree
Experience: After law school, he joined the Army for two years. Served as district attorney and a judge. From 1981-93, he was as a Democratic state senator. In 1992, he was elected to Congress. In 1995, he switched to the Republican Party. He was elected nine times to the House.

John Monds
Party
: Libertarian
Age: 45
Home: Cairo
Education: Bachelor's degree from Morehouse College, 1987.
Experience: Currently a stay-at-home dad who home schools his children. Previously a finance officer for Lehman Brothers and former employee at Mesaba Airlines, a subsidiary of Delta Airlines. 

Despite a number of missteps, Republican gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal has sustained voter confidence with a lead in the polls and a full war chest.

Since winning the Republican primary, Deal has had to claw his way past media reports of financial trouble as well as a storm of negative advertisements from Democratic foe Roy Barnes.

"Deal has had a lot of negative publicity about him, and usually you'd expect that this would harm the individual and take away the lead he's enjoyed," said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia. "None of those seem to particularly hurt him."

In September, Deal admitted he was on the hook for more than $2 million in loans he guaranteed for his daughter's failed outdoor sporting goods store in Habersham County.

The loans come due in February. Deal has said he is selling the commercial property, along with his Gainesville home and liquidating a retirement account to make good on the debt.

The Deal campaign also had to amend a state financial disclosure form after realizing the forms left off $2.85 million in active business loans for the auto salvage business Deal co-owns.

The news hasn't made a major dent in fundraising efforts.

Since Aug. 6, Deal has received about $2.67 million in contributions for his campaign.

Bullock said many voters can relate to Deal's troubles.

"His problems are much more understandable to voters," Bullock said. "A few years back, it was really shocking to hear someone was going to maybe go bankrupt or lose a home to foreclosure. Now, literally tens of thousands of people lose homes through foreclosure and run into financial problems."

At this point, it appears there are few things left Deal could do to hurt himself.

"If he were photographed doing a ‘perp walk,' that would hurt," Bullock said.

And after years and years of political scandals throughout the country, it is also possible people have a higher threshold for what they consider a vote-costing offense.

"The voters may have even come to almost expect it and think that's what politicians do," Bullock said. "They may not be as shocked."

Bullock said Deal's Teflon veneer has a lot to do with Georgia's mostly conservative electorate.

"This is a red state and it's redder in a midterm election than it is in a presidential," Bullock said.

Bullock said he believes steady poll numbers are directly correlated with steady campaign contributions.

"There's reason to believe that if a person's poll numbers could go down, it could dry up their contributors," Bullock said. "If you were inclined to send him a check, with the strength he continues to show against Barnes, you're probably going to write that check."

Though Deal has maintained only a slight lead that stays in the single digits, other Republicans in statewide races have enjoyed much larger leads in polls. It is possible the negative publicity could have cut into a potentially higher lead over Barnes. However, Barnes is a stronger and more widely known opponent than many other conservatives are facing.

"Deal may be paying something of a price for the negative stories coming out against him," Bullock said.

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