"We certainly have the option of requesting the automatic statewide recount," Handel said in her concession statement. "But we are not going to do that. The best thing for our party is to rally around Congressman Deal as our nominee in the fight against Roy Barnes. Barnes would return Georgia to a past that is best kept in our rearview mirror. We must marshal all of our resources to defeat him."
By conceding, Handel resolves the uncertainty about who the nominee will be, allows the GOP nominee to begin the fall campaign immediately, helps heal the wounds caused by the bitter runoff campaign between herself and Deal and thereby helps preserve her viability as a future candidate should she choose to run again.
"I thank the people of Georgia for the opportunity to serve them and for allowing me to interview for the job of governor," Handel said. " This was an amazing journey, and the friendships that (husband) Steve and I made enriched our lives immeasurably. I look forward to finding a way to serve this great state in the future."
Handel was the leading vote-getter in the July 20 primary election and maintained her front-runner status during the early part of the runoff. But Deal steadily gained momentum. Tuesday's returns show he captured the nomination based primarily on support from Gainesville (his home) and rural areas of the state, while Handel did best in the big cities and suburbs.
Handel's loss is a loss as well for Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who flew in to Atlanta to endorse Handel. And it is a victory, on the other hand, for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who both campaigned here for Deal.
The focus now shifts to the fall campaign, and which of the two major candidates is best suited to govern the state: Deal or Democratic nominee Roy Barnes. We congratulate Deal on his come-from-behind victory.
We would advise both men that Georgians have seen enough of bitterness and personal attacks in the past three weeks, and to focus instead on the positive parts of their platforms, and especially on what they plan to do to address Georgia's economic, education and budgetary issues.
CONGRATULATIONS are due as well to former Cobb Commission Chairman Sam Olens, who decisively won the GOP Primary on Tuesday for state attorney general. We feel that as Georgians get to know him better in coming months, they will find him just as capable as Cobb residents have. And we saw strong indications of that on Tuesday.
Likewise, congratulations go to JoAnn Birrell of east Cobb, who on Tuesday narrowly defeated Earl Stine in the race to succeed District 3 Northeast Cobb Commissioner Tim Lee. These are not easy times to enter that office, not with the county facing a budget crisis of historical proportions. But we wish her well.