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It is unfortunate that the tone of the current gubernatorial election has become so bitter and negative that most Georgians simply want to get this week's elections over with so they can stop hearing about it.
Unfortunate because this election is important, incredibly important to the state and its future.
The next governor of Georgia will have a full agenda from day one: returning vitality to the state's economy, resolving legal entanglements over water resources, solving transportation problems that continue to choke much of the state, improving a weak educational system, helping private industry to create jobs.
Whoever sits in the governor's mansion next year will be challenged by those and dozens of other high-priority issues, while also facing the hard reality that there will be no new money with which to work at the state level.
The next governor also will oversee the redrawing of political districts across Georgia, an event that takes place every 10 years after census numbers are finalized. Though not a hot-button issue with most voters, the reapportionment process has major long-term implications for the state and often determines whether Democrats or Republicans are elected to seats in the U.S. Congress and the state's General Assembly.
To accomplish what must be done in Georgia in the years to come will demand strong leadership from the state's highest elected official. We are convinced that Nathan Deal is the leader that Georgia needs.
While we can certainly take pride in the potentially historic election of both a governor and lieutenant governor from Hall County, ours is not a "native son" endorsement. Geography alone is a poor rationale for supporting of a political candidate for the top office in the state.
The issue isn't where a candidate is from, but rather where the state is going. We need a governor who is in tune with the will of the governed and understands philosophically what the role of government should be. In this race, there is no doubt that person is Deal.
As a member of Congress, Deal proved to be a thoughtful conservative, consistently representing the people of North Georgia in a manner that reflected their political beliefs. That he repeatedly was re-elected without serious challenge is indicative of his reputation among those most familiar with his years of service.
Deal has proven that his is a conservative political voice that speaks the same language as a majority of Georgians. He has not been reluctant to take a firm stand on tough issues, such as illegal immigration and the Obama health care plan. His positions have been consistent throughout the campaign, and have not changed in order to win support from one group or another. Unlike his Democratic opponent, Deal has not made promises that the state cannot afford for the next governor to keep.
That said, Deal's campaign for governor has not always been pretty to watch. From the outset the Deal campaign seemed to stumble over a host of little things. His hat was one of the last tossed into the political ring, coming only after Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle decided not to run, and much of the campaign has been spent dealing with gaffes that seemed the result of hasty decisions or poor planning.
Like others, we wish Deal had been more forthright in the release of his personal tax returns, more forthcoming with information about his personal finances and more open about the personal business ventures, which have led to questions about his ability to draw lines between his private life and his role as an elected official.
His reluctance to release personal financial information has allowed his opponents to generate a lot of smoke on the campaign trail, but there has been very little evidence of any fire to justify it.
The campaign for governor has been long, grueling and frequently ugly, but for the most part Deal has managed to rise above the fray and talk about issues of significance, his vision for the future and his plans for making Georgia a better state.
We are convinced the election of Nathan Deal will make Georgia proud of its next governor.
In the race for the state's second highest office, Cagle is seeking re-election and without question deserves another term in office.
Cagle has proven himself a solid, steadying influence in the sometimes maddeningly chaotic General Assembly. He has shown the ability to work with both Republicans and Democrats on issues of importance, and has demonstrated an impressive knowledge of state government. He has coupled that knowledge with a practical common sense understanding of fiscal realities in a manner that has been impressive.
In this most unusual of election years where there are few incumbents seeking re-election to top state offices, Cagle can run on his record and have every expectation of support and victory. He has, deservedly, earned the respect of Georgians across the state and has much to offer in another term.
It is vital for their election bids that the voters who know Deal and Cagle best - those from Hall and surrounding counties - make their voices heard on Election Day. We encourage you to go to the polls and vote for two highly qualified candidates, not because of where they are from, but rather because of what their elections can mean to the future of Georgia.