After Primary Win, Deal Turns Focus to Carter
Gov. Nathan Deal Tuesday cruised to victory over two challengers in the Republican primary. He now turns his focus to a well-funded Democratic opponent in Jason Carter.
In front of about 200 supporters at the Georgian Terrace Hotel in midtown Atlanta, Deal cited as accomplishments an improved unemployment rate, a better business climate, and more jobs.
"Approximately 258,000 new private sector jobs have been created in the last three and half years in our great state," said Deal.
He referred to the “overwhelming margin” of Republican voters who supported him in Tuesday's primary.
"We believe that our party will be united…that we will be in a position to move forward with strength as we go into the general election in November," said Deal.
Speaking to reporters, Deal acknowledged the national interest in the race and the amount of money flowing into the state as a result.
"I think we all know that from what we’ve seen there’s going to be a lot of outside money on the Democrat side. I expect that we will see some outside money on the Republican side as well. But I think Georgians are smart enough to know that they don’t want people in New York and California dictating who their governor is going to be," said Deal.
He says education will be a major focus if re-elected. He touted recent efforts to increase HOPE scholarship funding for technical college students and noted this year’s budget, which includes $300 million in additional funds for K-12 education.
"K-12 education has to be a primary focus for us. We have a lot of great teachers in our state. We need to make sure they’re supported so they can provide the kind of positive results we all want," said Deal.
He reiterated a vow to overhaul the current funding formula for K-12 schools if elected to a second term.
Meanwhile, Carter, the former state senator from DeKalb County and grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, has made education the centerpiece of his campaign.
"We’ve seen the greatest contraction of public education in the history of our state," said Carter. "We’ve got serious problems. 45,000 fewer technical college students and the governor is touting the Band-Aid that he put on that gigantic crises. The fact that he’s trying to clean up the messes he's created demonstrates how bad it’s been over the last several years," said Carter.
He says if elected he’ll fight to permanently separate education from the rest of the budget, so legislators can’t raid it during tough times.
In addition to education, Carter says Deal's record on the economy is nothing to be proud of.
"He must be looking at a different economy than the one the middle class is living in because we are still near the bottom with regard to unemployment, with regard to poverty, with regard to any number of issues," said Carter.
The latest poll conducted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution puts Deal ahead of Carter by about three points.