No Appalachian Trail for Deal in mysterious search for jobs, not love

Where in the world is Gov. Nathan Deal? For a few days, only his inner circle knew.

His office didn’t disclose where he journeyed. His public schedule was blank until Thursday. And questions about the trip were met with silence.

That secrecy only fed rumors, with some using Twitter to dub Deal as an “International Man of Mystery.”

Naturally, when a Southern governor vanishes, thoughts turn to South Carolina’s Mark Sanford, who made “the Appalachian Trail” a phrase worthy of the Urban Dictionary when he used it as a cover for an extramarital rendezvous in Argentina.

Sanford’s former press secretary, Joel Sawyer, apparently feeling an obligation to comment on any missing governor, offered his insights on Twitter.

“NO I DON’T KNOW WHERE NATHAN DEAL IS!!!”

(Deal’s own spokesman, Brian Robinson, also made a Sanfordian reference, quipping to a New York Times reporter that “There’s no Argentinian lover involved.”)

Wednesday, the state learned that Deal’s rendezvous was one with commerce.

The governor and his top advisers let it be known they had just returned from a short trip to the United Kingdom, where they met with business leaders over a possible economic deal.

“We’ll go anywhere and everywhere to bring jobs and investment to Georgia!” Chris Carr, Georgia’s economic development commissioner, posted on Facebook.

It was a likely location. The U.K. is Georgia’s fourth-largest trade partner and home to countless firms seeking new overseas markets, including a growing auto industry, aerospace business and pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The reason for all the secrecy? The governor’s office sends official releases about his trade missions and makes details of his shorter trips available. But this time, they said, they worried the publicity could jeopardize the state’s recruiting efforts.

And that means one mystery remains: Whom did Deal meet?

We may not know for a bit. A records request filed last week seeking those details was still pending. And Robinson took to social media to say he would only “partly” solve the mystery.

“He’s always seeking new jobs,” was all he would add.

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