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Handel, Deal Headed For Runoff In Georgia

Republicans in Georgia are headed to a runoff in the governor's race. Karen Handel, a former secretary of state, paced the seven-candidate field with 33 percent of the vote, well shy of the majority needed to win the nomination outright.

Handel will face former Rep. Nathan Deal, who resigned his House seat earlier this year to focus on his gubernatorial bid. Deal took 23 percent, edging out two others for the final spot in the runoff. Former state Sen. Eric Johnson finished with 20 percent, state Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine with 17 percent and three others with 3 percent or less.

The runoff takes place Aug. 10.

Oxendine had led in most polls heading into the final weeks of the primary and led by 8 points in a poll as recently as last week. But as she's done elsewhere, Sarah Palin stepped into the race last week to endorse Handel.

Just as she had done in the neighboring South Carolina Republican gubernatorial primary, Palin's endorsement was followed by an immediate boost in the polls for her candidate of choice. In South Carolina it was Nikki Haley, who went on to win a runoff against Rep. Gresham Barrett.

The winner of the three-week dash will face former Gov. Roy Barnes, one of five former governors running for their old jobs. Barnes cake-walked through the Democratic primary, winning 64 percent of the vote. Attorney General Thurbert Baker finished second with 22 percent.