The Campaign Spot

Is This Deal in Trouble?

I haven’t seen any major tightening in the polls yet, but Republican readers in Georgia are sweating their governor’s race.

At a paper-plate luncheon for lawyers and judges on Friday, Nathan Deal, the Republican nominee for governor of Georgia, searched for a metaphor that would resonate. He wanted to describe how it feels to run a major campaign, especially amid revelations last week that he is facing more than $5 million of debt and may need to sell his house to avoid bankruptcy or foreclosure.

“What’s it like?” he asked rhetorically, standing in a century-old courtroom in this Atlanta suburb. “It’s like being in a trial that is contentious, doesn’t have weekends off and lasts for over a year and a half.”

In his analogy, the jurors determining his fate would be Georgia voters, who must decide in November whether to stand by Mr. Deal, a former nine-term congressman, despite revelations about his worsening financial situation.

On Wednesday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Mr. Deal, 68, owed $2.3 million to a bank, after having invested in his daughter’s sporting goods store, which went out of business last year. On Thursday, The Associated Press added to the campaign’s troubles, reporting that Mr. Deal also owed $2.85 million on loans for an automobile salvage business he co-owns.

None of the debts were included in filings that the Deal campaign released before the Republican primary runoff in August, which Mr. Deal won by less than 1 percent of the vote.

. . . “This is great for Democrats,” said Larry J. Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. “Georgia is as politically red as its clay, and I would still rate Deal a slight favorite, but not any more than that.”

Under Georgia law, if no candidate gets 50 percent, it goes to a runoff. There are Libertarian and independent candidates on the ballot this year, so a runoff is not hard to imagine.

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