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No rest for weary on the campaign trail
Candidates for state office spend long hours drumming up support
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Two days before he would receive enough votes to secure the Republican nomination in Georgia's governor's race, Nathan Deal went to church in Gainesville.

The visit to First Baptist Church on Green Street on Aug. 8 was the first time Deal's schedule allowed him to perform his regular Sunday ritual in weeks, his campaign calendar shows.

And even on that day, Deal had work to do. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee came to Gainesville to campaign for the former congressman in a tight runoff election. Afterward, Deal participated in an Atlanta Press Club debate in Georgia Public Broadcasting's Atlanta studios with his GOP rival, former Secretary of State Karen Handel.

Such is the life of just about any political hopeful in an election year.

Deal's calendar between July 18 and Aug. 10 cordons off time for some 150 radio and television interviews, campaign events and meetings with supporters, fundraisers and consultants.

Some days have Deal shaking hands in multiple cities. Others include overlapping interviews in which Deal sat in the parking lot of one Atlanta broadcasting company while finishing up a call-in interview with a Jefferson radio station.

There is little room for regular routine.

"We basically have his schedule down to the minute almost every day," said Deal's director of communications, Brian Robinson.

Two days after the runoff, Deal took one day to rest from the campaign.

But elsewhere, other campaigns were getting their engines revved for the road to November's general election.

Deal's newest, immediate competition — the Democratic nominee — was making tracks across South Georgia.

On Aug. 12, former Gov. Roy Barnes met with local officials and educators in Irwin County and attended an evening fundraiser in Ocilla 12 hours after he started his day with a campaign breakfast in Dublin, according to a schedule for that day provided by his campaign.

And that was a slow day.

"The busiest time of any candidate is certainly the days before an election," said Anna Ruth Williams, a spokeswoman for Barnes' campaign. "We have about 80 days left until the election, and we're just focusing on taking his message of making Georgia work to voters across the state."

Regrouping after the primary election also means a lot of time on the phone in search of money, staff and strategies for the next three months.

Jan Hackney, who manages Carol Porter's schedule in her campaign for lieutenant governor, said that lately, the Democratic nominee spends most of the day inside her Atlanta campaign office looking for donations.

Porter's evenings and weekends, Hackney said, are usually filled with events.

"She's calling people all day long all over the state, and then, mostly on the weekends, different counties have different events," Hackney said. "... There's just always something going on."

Deal's schedule, too, marks off hours for finance committee conference calls and personal meetings with contributors.

It doesn't get any easier for incumbents, either.

Ryan Cassin, who manages Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle's re-election campaign, said that while the incumbent may have name recognition and an easier time raising campaign cash, Cagle's duties in the Capitol make scheduling campaign events even more of a challenge.

"He's pulled in all different directions," Cassin said. "... He has maintained an extraordinarily busy schedule and it's only getting busier as we get into the full swing of campaign season here."

And only rarely does Cagle — or any of those seeking some of Georgia's highest offices — get any rest.

"You've got to maximize your exposure while at the same time understanding that fatigue doesn't lead to the best outcomes," Robinson said.

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