Of all the vanquished Republican candidates for Senate, none has stayed closer to Gov. Nathan Deal's orbit than Phil Gingrey.
The former congressman was a fixture at his metro Atlanta campaign events, an honored guest at his inaugural and a defender of his policies, namely on immigration, to conservative critics. Just this week, he was spotted making a pilgrimage to his office.
The governor on Friday favored Gingrey, a retired physician, with a plum position on the Georgia World Congress Center's board. It's considered one of the better appointments in state governance, with oversight of not just the booming convention center but also Centennial Olympic Park and the Georgia Dome.
The board also gets the final say on the ins-and-outs of the new $1.4 billion Falcons stadium set to open in 2017, right down to the price of personal seat licenses and the origami-like design of the downtown building. There's no salary for the post, just a $105 per day per diem.
The governor stayed out of last year's messy GOP race for the open Senate seat, which featured Gingrey and four other high-profile Republicans. But he's always remained close to the Marietta Republican, who he served with in Congress and was one of his most stalwart supporters during Deal's first campaign for governor in 2010.
When asked about the ex-congressman earlier this week, Deal spokesman Brian Robinson called him a "good friend" of the governor who visits frequently.
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