Karen Handel, the front-runner for Republican nomination for Georgia governor, conceded Wednesday morning after a narrow Tuesday runoff loss to former Congressman Nathan Deal of Gainesville. With 99 percent of the nearly 600,000 votes counted, she trailed by about 3,000 votes.
The following was e-mailed at 11:15 from Handel's press office:
"I want to thank all of my friends, supporters, volunteers and my campaign team for a tremendous effort over the last 16 months. We ran a terrific campaign, beat the odds to come in first place in the Primary, and came so very close in the runoff election.
"As of this morning, we are four tenths of a percentage point behind Nathan Deal with absentee ballots and overseas military votes yet to be counted. We certainly have the option of requesting the automatic statewide recount.
"But we are not going to do that.
"The best thing for our party is to rally around Congressman Deal as our nominee in the fight against Roy Barnes. Barnes would return Georgia to a past that is best kept in our rearview mirror. We must marshal all of our resources to defeat him.
"I spoke with Nathan this morning and let him know that I endorse his candidacy and look forward to the fight against Barnes. I have also called on all who were supporting me to give their same commitment and energy to Nathan.
"I thank the people of Georgia for the opportunity to serve them and for allowing me to interview for the job of Governor. This was an amazing journey, and the friendships that Steve and I made enriched our lives immeasurably. I look forward to finding a way to serve this great state in the future.