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Our Views: In governor's race, experience counts
In this crucial election, only Deal shows the leadership needed to meet states challenges
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Hall Countians are in a very unique position this year in that they could possibly see one of their own elected to the offices of both governor and lieutenant governor.

Of course, for that to happen requires that former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal win Tuesday's Republican runoff, and then both he and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle win in the general election in November.

We're a long way from turning possibility into reality, but just the potential is intriguing, and testament to the quality of leadership to be found in the Hall County area.

But as we noted in this space before, geography alone is no reason to vote for a particular candidate.

In the gubernatorial runoff Tuesday, we think there are many solid reasons for casting a ballot for Deal as the Republican nominee for governor.

As a matter of policy, this newspaper does not traditionally endorse political candidates, preferring instead to provide as much information as possible to inform the electorate then allowing the voters to decide how they will cast their ballots. But the stakes are so high in this year's gubernatorial race that we feel compelled to ask voters to support Deal's candidacy.

The person elected this fall to serve as governor is going to face the daunting task of trying to lead the state through some of the most turbulent times in its storied history. The lingering economic crisis that has created a national sense of malaise threatens to crack the financial foundations of state government. The need to balance vital state services against receding state revenues will impact every decision made under the Capitol dome for much of the next decade.

At the same time, state leaders will be forced to deal with problems passed along by the federal government in Washington, such as finding the resources to implement a federal health care program forged with little concern for financial realities; molding an educational system that can excel under the mandates of federal school programs; and dealing with issues the federal government and courts simply seem unable to resolve, such as illegal immigration and allocation of water resources.

The next governor of Georgia will do much to determine whether the state can capitalize on progressive momentum built over the past 50 years and continue to grow and thrive, or whether it will become lost in the shuffle as other states move to the forefront of economic prosperity and sustained higher standards of living.

Given the enormous challenges likely to face the next resident of the governor's mansion, we think it obvious that there is only one clear choice for those voters casting a ballot in Tuesday's runoff.

Deal has been preparing for this opportunity to serve the state for much of his adult life. He has served with distinction in the state's General Assembly and the U.S. Congress, and has the breadth of experience necessary to deal with the significant problems facing the state. His opponent in Tuesday's runoff, Karen Handel, simply does not.

In campaigning for governor, Deal has put forth issue-driven ideas that reflect his personal conservative political philosophy, a philosophy we feel reflects the opinion of a majority of Georgians. He has anchored much of his campaign on the need to create jobs, which has to be the first step toward any long-term economic recovery for the state. His has been a candidacy built on an unwavering commitment to certain core conservative beliefs about the role of government, as supported by his voting record as a member of Congress.

Handel, meanwhile, has shown herself to be a political opportunist, adept at shifting the sails of her philosophical ship to catch whatever popular winds might be prevalent, but at the core offering little of substance on which voters might make a decision.

It is ironic that she has based her campaign on not being one of the state's "good ol' boys," when in fact much of her political success is attributable to the mentorship and support of Gov. Sonny Perdue, whose tenure as governor has not exactly been one of the great shining moments in Georgia's political history.

Deal has the experience to walk into the governor's office and to immediately begin tackling severe problems that are going to face the state for the next several years. He will bring a calm gravitas to the position that comes only from true leadership ability. There is no doubt that he is the most knowledgeable, capable and credible candidate on the GOP's primary ballot.

To win, Deal needs the overwhelming support of the people in the 9th District who he has served so capably for so long.

We encourage you to get to the polls Tuesday, and to cast your ballot for Nathan Deal as the Republican nominee for governor.

In another race of importance to voters of the district, Lee Hawkins of Gainesville is again in a runoff with Tom Graves for the GOP nomination to the 9th District U.S. House seat, for which there is no Democratic opposition in November.

Graves is the incumbent in the race due to having won a special election earlier in the year. Yet he has hanging over his head the dark shadow of a potentially nasty and troubling lawsuit involving an unmet financial obligation to a bank and the manipulation of property ownership to avoid meeting that obligation.

It would be beneficial to voters to have more detailed information about the transaction before the runoff, but that isn't the case. Graves may yet shed the personal baggage and prove to be an excellent congressman, but Hawkins is a solid, proven candidate of high personal character who we are convinced would serve the district well in Washington.

We hope that you will consider voting for Lee Hawkins as a replacement for Deal in Washington.

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