In one of the most egregious examples, Deal released a campaign ad claiming Handel supported YouthPride, an Atlanta LGBT youth agency, which Deal claimed “promotes homosexuality” to children as young as 13.
And as of Wednesday morning, the runoff for the GOP nomination for governor remained stubbornly too close to call.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, unofficial results from the Georgia Secretary of State’s website showed Deal with 50.2 percent of the vote, or 290,580 votes, compared to 49.8 percent, or 288,091 votes for Handel. Only 2,489 votes separated the two candidates out of 579,036 votes cast. Military votes were still being counted, and a recount of the entire contest appears likely.
At 11:15 p.m. Tuesday night, Deal addressed his supporters and the media but declined to claim victory yet. About five minutes later, Handel thanked her supporters and said she is “optimistic” about pulling out a win when all ballots are tallied.
Deal, a former congressman, has repeatedly attacked Handel, former Georgia secretary of state, for her membership in the pro-gay Log Cabin Republicans and support for domestic partner benefits back when she was a candidate for the Fulton County Commission.
Handel has denied both since seeking state offices, and in the run-up to the GOP gubernatorial primary, went so far as to say she “would consider” legislation to ban gay adoptions.
In the July runoff, Deal placed second with 22.9 percent of the vote. As a member of the U.S. House, consistently received scores of zero on HRC’s Congressional report card for LGBT issues and has voted for a federal constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Handel placed first in the primary with 34.1 percent.
The winner of the Republican runoff will face former Gov. Roy Barnes, a Democrat, and John H. Monds, a Libertarian, on the Nov. 2 ballot.
Democratic runoff for secretary of state
Another race of particular interest to LGBT voters on Tuesday was the Democratic runoff for Secretary of State, where one candidate voted for the state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, and the other voted against it.
Gail Buckner placed first in the primary with 35.1 percent. As a member of Georgia Senate, she voted for the state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Georganna Sinkfield placed second with 22.6 percent. As a member of the Georgia House, she voted against the state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and against a bill to prevent cities from requiring private businesses to offer domestic partner benefits to be eligible for city contracts.
In the runoff, Sinkfield cruised past Buckner. With 95 percent of precincts reporting, unofficial results from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office showed Sinkfield with 61.7 percent of the vote, comapred to 37.8 percent for Buckner.
Sinkfield will face Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican, and Libertarian David Chastain on the November ballot.