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Ethics probe doesn't shake Deal's frontrunner status

9:04 PM, Dec 13, 2013   |    comments
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Governor Nathan Deal says the showdown in Washington could put state employees out of work.

ATLANTA -- The ethics questions that surround Governor Nathan Deal are largely rooted in his 2010 campaign for Governor -- like the allegation that he'd funneled campaign cash to a family-owned aviation company that flew the candidate around the state in a private plane. But that allegation, and many others, were largely aired and dismissed more than a year ago.

RELATED: Federal probe targets Deal ethics commission issues

Former Georgia Republican party chairman Chuck Clay is a Deal supporter -- who thinks voters will view the drumbeat of ethics chatter as old news as Deal gears up for his 2014 re-election campaign.

"Right now for him it's-- you bite your tongue, you grit your teeth and you get on to talking about your record you've built," Clay said. "The issues that are going to cut are the more traditional (ones)-- jobs, taxes, economic development."

When Deal ran for Governor in 2010, ethics issues dogged him from his days in Congress. Yet he came from behind to win the GOP primary and easily beat Democrat Roy Barnes.

Dr. Andra Gillespie of Emory University says it'll take more than a few grand jury subpoenas to make Deal anything other than the frontrunner.

"He can frame this as a witch hunt," Gillespie said. "There's no reason to anticipate that is going to change until people start to get indicted or people start to get accused of some serious wrongdoing."

But if that does happen -- Dr. Gillespie says it could quickly reshape the 2014 election.

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