ATLANTA-- Gov. Deal's political stake in this week's winter weather couldn't be higher.
Voters in Georgia noticed when Governor Deal admitted he acted too slowly in response to a winter storm warning two weeks ago. Deal faces a GOP primary challenge in May, and a well-funded Democrat in Sen. Jason Carter (D-Decatur) this fall.
Monday, Deal issued a state of emergency even though the worst of the weather is expected in metro Atlanta Wednesday. Deal's backers at the Capitol are hopeful that voters will give him credit for being more proactive than he was earlier this month.
"Both of (my fingers) are crossed," said Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville), a supporter of Deal. "I think we'll get it right."
"I think if it goes well, memories start fading fairly quickly and the stories (from the previous storm) become more anecdotal and humorous," said Chuck Clay, a former state senator and state GOP chairman now working as a lobbyist.
Some of Deal's political enemies are also rooting for a better state response. "Hopefully he'll do better than he did two weeks ago," said Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta). "It would be difficult for him to do any worse."
Democrats are not openly hoping for Deal to stumble this week as he eyes re-election in 2014. But if it happens, they're ready to pounce.