Palin Stumps For Handel In Ga. Governor Runoff

ATLANTA — Sarah Palin handed Georgia gubernatorial hopeful Karen Handel her conservative seal of approval on Monday in a tight Republican runoff, saying Handel would "fight like a mama grizzly" and help usher out the state's "good ol' boy network." The former Alaska governor swept into Atlanta to stump for Handel on the eve of the runoff election Tuesday against former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal. The winner will face Democrat Roy Barnes in the November general election. "Are you ready to elect a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, commonsense constitutional conservative, who will fight like a mama grizzly for you and the values that you hold dear?" Palin asked a cheering crowd in a hotel ballroom. Palin called the Georgia campaign "epic" and said Handel — who has made ethics a centerpiece of her bid — would prove there's a better way to lead. Handel is running to become Georgia's first female governor. Deal was campaigning on Monday in seven cities across the state. On Sunday, former Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee headlined a rally for Deal. Huckabee won Georgia's GOP presidential primary in 2008 with strong support from the state's evangelical voters. Palin's endorsement in the primary campaign was widely credited with catapulting Handel into a first-place finish among seven GOP gubernatorial candidates. But Handel missed the mark of 50 percent plus one vote, triggering a runoff against Deal as the second-place finisher. The Handel camp was betting Palin's appearance at the 40-minute rally Monday would whip up enthusiasm and remind voters to turn out again Tuesday. A poll released Sunday showed Handel and Deal in a tight race, with Handel leading Deal 47 percent to 42 percent and 11 percent of voters undecided. The survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. of 625 likely voters, taken between Wednesday and Friday, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. It was paid for by 13 daily newspapers across Georgia.