Both sides of the aisle are vying heavily for the state's top spot with seven qualified Democratic nominees and seven qualified Republican nominees waiting for the July 20 vote.
Bartow County's most recent guest representing the race for governor resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives on March 31 to concentrate on the upcoming election after serving in congress for 18 years. Deal said he pushed back his resignation to ensure participation in the health care reform debate. A vote against the health care reform bill was Deal's last action as congressman.
Deal, 67, spoke to members and guests at Monday's meeting regarding several issues including those of local, state and national effect. At the top of his talking points was the issue of jobs creation.
"There are many issues facing our state as you all know," Deal said. "Jobs, though, is an issue all across our state and the question is 'What do we do to change that?'"
His platform for answering this question rests largely on the evaluation of the state's tax structure, including the reduction of corporate tax by at least one third and the elimination of the marriage penalty tax.
Another topic addressed by Deal was that of transportation relating directly to Bartow County through his support of the U.S. 411 connector serving as a direct path for Floyd County commuters. Funding for this project and others aimed to increase east-west accessibility across the state would come from a Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax voted on by residents of the 12 regions formed during this year's legislative session.
Touching on the subject of education, which demands a majority of the state's annual budget, Deal commented on the recent layoff of faculty in institutions across the state.
"I think the laying off of teachers is one of the most dramatic, negative steps that you can take at a time when we all know we've got to improve education in our state. It's not just the immediacy of it. It is not just the fact that you have good teachers who are no longer going to be employed or good teachers who will be in larger class size environments. I think the negative long-term is that you deter young people who thought they wanted to be a teacher," he said.
The last issue of direct local impact brought about by Deal at the Rotary gathering was immigration reform and the use of local law enforcement to help immigration and customs enforcement. Through a program known as 287 (g), immigration enforcement authority is delegated to trained members of local agencies. This program, which Deal said is currently in use in four Georgia counties, is part of his plan for immigration enforcement.
The July 20 primary will decide party nominations between a crowded field. In the Democratic primary, Thurbert Baker, Roy Barnes, Bill Bolten, Carl Camon, Randal Mangham, DuBose Porter and David Poythress will face off for the nod. Republican candidates seeking the nomination are Jeff Chapman, Deal, Karen Handel, Eric Johnson, Ray McBerry, John Oxendine and Otis Putnam.