Gov. Deal defeats Democrat Jason Carter to win second term

Gov. Nathan Deal captured another term as Georgia’s leader on Tuesday in a convincing re-election victory over Democrat Jason Carter after a bruising and bitter clash of ideals over the state’s future.

The incumbent Republican won with a stay-the-course message and modest campaign pledges that centered on his economic record, which he said has turned Georgia into a jobs magnet. Throughout the campaign, he highlighted his four decades of public experience as a contrast with Carter, a two-term senator.

“We had a message that the people of this state accepted and understood,” the governor said. “And we think we did a good job bringing this state through very difficult times.”

The victory was a rebuke to Democrats who hoped Georgia’s shifting demographics and stubborn jobless rate — the nation’s highest two months in a row — could help them reclaim the office after 12 years of GOP control.

Carter, a grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, struck a populist tone as he pledged to boost education spending and invigorate the state economy. But Deal hammered him during the closing months of the campaign, calling him a candidate of “no substance” who made empty promises he could not hope to keep.

Even Deal said he was taken aback by the “surprisingly big margin” of victory. Polls suggested a much closer race.

“It’s not an end. It’s the beginning of four more years,” said Deal. “And we’re going to follow through on our promises.”