ATLANTA -- After a bruising runoff campaign, former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal and former Secretary of State Karen Handel were locked in a tight race Tuesday to decide the Republican nominee for governor.
Unofficial early returns had Deal leading with 51 percent of the vote to 49 percent for Handel with 40 percent of precincts reporting.
The three-week runoff between Deal and Handel has featured brutal attack ads, dueling endorsements from Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich and tough talk on the campaign trail.
The winner of Tuesday's runoff will face Roy Barnes, a Democrat running for his old job, in the November general election. The former governor locked up his party's nomination in the July 20 primary.